On own road to green revolutionChina
Smog blurred the skyline Wednesday morning as I opened the curtain of my hotel room in Tianjin. The day was hot and stifling; the heat and CO2 seemed to be trapped beneath a blanket of smog.
"We have quite a few days like this," my taxi driver told me as she took me to the Tianjin railway station.
"There are so many cars are on the road these days; still, I feel the authorities should put a stricter cap on car emissions," she said.
I couldn't agree more, especially after three days of covering the on-going United Nations climate change negotiations.
The atmosphere inside the Tianjin Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Center was relaxed, with little of the political intensity I felt while covering the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen last December.
One reason, I believe, was that the participants - from government negotiators to representatives of international and non-government organizations - had already downgraded their expectations.
Christiana Figueres, the new executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, conceded that even with additional preparation in Tianjin, the agreements to be reached in Cancun, Mexico, in early December will not be "exhaustive in their details".
Perhaps that is why many participants could not hide their disappointment over the slow progress of the negotiations. As Martin Khor, executive director of South Center, a Geneva-based non-government international organization of 51 developing countries, pointed out, millions of people have suffered from devastating floods in Pakistan, China and elsewhere, as well as from the severe heat that caused great forest fires in Russia.
The deaths and devastation should accelerate these climate talks, which aim to commit all countries to slow down global warming and prevent a dangerous level of human interference in the climate cycle.
Inevitably, some have resorted to finger-pointing. Western media say China is "in the hot seat"; some delegates accuse China of playing "arithmetic" or setting easily attainable targets for CO2 emissions. Speakers at the conference were frequently asked to evaluate China's actions in mitigating climate change and China's role in the negotiations.
By now, I think we Chinese are accustomed to the finger-pointing. Many critics attempt to "penalize" China simply because it has the world's largest population and is on a fast track toward industrialization and urbanization.
For those very reasons, we must forge ahead our own programs, policies, regulations and innovative technologies to bring about a green revolution. We must embark on the road to green development; we cannot afford to continue on the path blazed by the developed countries.
We cannot, for example, afford to repeat the Great Smog experienced by London in December 1952, when a temperature inversion trapped coal smoke close to the ground. More than 4,000 people died, mostly of respiratory illnesses; the eventual death toll was estimated at 12,000. Ultimately, the Great Smog led to environmental regulations and cleaner air, but at a terrible cost.
Over the past five years, many Chinese have made sacrifices in the national drive to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Many lost their jobs after some 2,000 small power or iron and steel plants closed down in order to increase efficiency and reduce pollution.
We face many obstacles in our efforts to cut CO2 emissions and reduce reliance on fossil fuels further. According to a report by the World Bank last year, some 254 million Chinese still lived below $1.25 a day. I recently visited the home of a Han couple on the grassland in Inner Mongolia. Although the couple has two motorbikes and more than 200 sheep, the electricity their small wind power device generates can only power a 9-inch television and a few lights.
As Zou Ji, China's voice on the World Resources Institute, explained, we need to use more energy to ensure that every Chinese family lives in a solid, modern home.
But not, as my taxi driver insisted, at the expense of blue skies and clean air.
El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.
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