Climate change: a huge challenge for international diplomacy

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Establishing a new international climate change regime after the expiry of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012 “will only be possible if countries like China or India” are involved, writes Karl-Heinz Florenz MEP in the October newsletter of Parliament’s climate change committee.

Meanwhile, Satu Hassi MEP describes climate change as a huge challenge for international diplomacy, markets and technology, referring to it as “the most challenging test ever for the ability of humankind to cooperate”. 

Florenz says that the European Parliament attaches “great importance” to environmental foreign policy to “foster contacts with the parliaments and governments of non-EU states”. 

Parliament is sending a delegation to Beijing in order to “better understand” the Chinese position and plans regarding a future international framework for climate change. 

Hassi thinks that quick action is required on a global level and accepts that “most of the global warming seen so far” has been caused by rich countries who should thus take “rapid action”. However she also emphasises that the big developing countries such as China and India “must accept emission limits” as action from the developed world alone will not be enough. 

She recommends that developing countries begin by slowing down emissions growth, but “have to start to really reduce emissions” by 2030. 

Florenz insists that although China is becoming one of the world’s biggest polluters, it “attaches more and more importance to climate change”, introducing policies to address the issue. For the Chinese, climate change involves “both environment and development”, he adds. 

Hassi concludes that creating an agreement which significantly reduces global emissions quickly enough is “not easy” and rests on whether the developed world is ready to “give something” to developing countries, such as new funding, easing rules on intellectual property rights for green technologies or compensation for avoiding deforestation. 

Meanwhile, Florenz concludes by expressing his confidence that China will “vigorously engage in effective and pragmatic cooperation with the international community [and] individual countries”, while “maintaining economic and social development”. 

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