Hope that ideals will guide us (and our leaders)


From Peng Hanying, 4th year Politics, Fudan University

The Kyoto Protocol will expire in 2012 (first commitment period), and so all eyes are turned to a meeting now being held in Copenhagen. According to the UNFCC, the importance of this meeting is that “an ambitious new deal needs to be agreed this year so that national governments have time to prepare for implementation beyond 2012.”

Whether or not this new climate agreement that international society hopes for can be reached (especially when the dampening effect on the economy of emissions reductions during a time of economic crisis is considered); whether or not the nations present can agree on mid-term, or even long-term, emissions reduction targets, or merely provide a framework political agreement – I don’t think these are matters of concern just for politicians and the media.

We, as environmentally concerned citizens of the world, are also watching. I think the majority of us hope to see developed nations able to accept the principles of fairness and accept their historical responsibilities, regulate to reduce their emissions, and assist developing nations by providing support for their mitigation efforts. Of course, we all seem to understand justice and values.

But if you ask me, for example, what responsibility my nation of China — accused of being the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases — should bear to reduce emissions, whether those responsibilities should be borne by “the world’s factory”, or by the countries that actually benefit from those emissions – this is also a difficult question. But I still hope the ideals of protecting the environment and preventing global warming will guide us (and our leaders) to make the right decision.