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Addressing climate change

Developed countries should take more responsibility

Published : 08 Dec 2019, 21:34

  DF-Xinhua Report

Students talk about measures to protect environment during the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Madrid, Spain, on Dec. 4, 2019. File Photo Xinhua/Feng Junwei.

Developed countries should take more responsibility in addressing climate change, and developing countries should be allowed to transform to the fossil-free economy, a leading scientist has said in an interview with Xinhua.

"We are on the same boat, and we share the same atmosphere, so that everyone has to decarbonize. But we can go at different paces," said Johan Rockstroem, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, on the sidelines of the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid.

Rockstroem said developing countries like China should be allowed to transition slower than richer countries, because the developed and industrialized countries have larger responsibility for the historical emission, so that should also take larger responsibility for the phasing-out of fossil fuel.

Rockstroem believed that people's lifestyle is not fundamentally locked into fossil fuels. The future for everyone is in renewable, smart and modern fossil-free energy systems. However, there is no doubt that coal-dependent developing countries will have to transition in a slower way.

He also noted that looking at the long term, China has already made plans to achieve fundamentally sustainable ecological society, showing that China is now actively undertaking the climate-friendly transition.

Nothing has been achieved after intensive negotiation in the past week since the COP25 kicked off. It's the moment when diplomats have exhausted their mandates and look searchingly to the arrival of their ministers next week to break the deadlock.

According to some of the participants, developing and developed countries have different views on the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement, especially Article 6 about the market mechanisms, the focus of this event.

Developing countries also have different opinions, as some climate-vulnerable countries hope to raise the global ambition of climate change mitigation, while others want to stick to the Paris Agreement's goal of containing the global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, rather than 1.5, over pre-industrial levels.

The Germany-based Swedish scientist added that the phasing-out of fossil fuel should be carried out in a more realist path, because the differences among countries should be taken into consideration, especially the fact that poverty alleviation that also has to occur at the same time in developing countries.

Rockstroem's words echoed the principle of the Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that acknowledges the different capabilities and differing responsibilities of individual countries in addressing climate change.

In addition, Rockstroem said,"I would argue that the EU has the biggest responsibility as the climate change leader in the world. This is the world's largest economic unit that now needs to show decisive action."

The European Parliament has announced a "climate emergency" just ahead of the congress, and the new President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen said climate change was her utmost priority.

"EU must go very fast towards delivering responsibility to the Paris Agreement. It will signal other large emitters that it is not a sacrifice, but can make sense economically, create new opportunities," said Rockstroem.