A Small Step But Not the End of the Road

  • 21 December 2009

The world counted on United Nations Climate Change Conference, which concluded in Copenhagen recently, to formulate a strong framework for tackling the problem and other environmental issues that endanger the planet. However, even after nearly two weeks of discussions between 193 countries and 130 heads of states, the conference ended with only a limited non-binding agreement between 30 leaders of developed and emerging economies and met only the minimum of the proposed demands on the agenda. The poor results that have emerged from Copenhagen have disappointed millions around the globe because they expected the massive participation of leaders, especially from developed countries, to translate into qualitative achievement by way of international cooperation. Results, however, show that despite the severe danger facing both the developed and developing countries disagreements remain over the different ways of tackling the crisis, dissemination of tasks, responsibilities and costs. There also exists a difference in approach adopted by advanced countries and between them and the developing countries.

However, even though the Conference did not meet the aspirations of the people and failed to resolve disputes, it does not necessarily mean that international efforts to tackle climate change have failed or that the chapter is now closed. Copenhagen was only a stepping stone in this ongoing and sustained process which should go on till another Summit is convened on climate change, scheduled in Mexico in November 2010. To this effect, German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that talks should be held within six months to prepare for this Summit.

The world powers, big or small, have no option but to work jointly for a legislative and active institutional framework to deal with climate change despite obstacles and the presence of those who question this risk. This should not be ignored for three reasons. Firstly, climate change is a real and tangible danger and any attempt to question it goes against the reality on the ground as people are being directly affected by it. Secondly, the danger is not limited to a country or a group of countries and has the potential to engulf the entire planet. As a result, no one can claim to be away from or immune to its consequences.  Thirdly, the dangers posed by climate change are of a cosmic nature and therefore no country, regardless of its capabilities and potential, can face this alone. All these make a global partnership on climate change an absolute necessity. The world doesn’t have too much time to make a difference on the ground because an escalating climate problem can make it even more complex and dangerous in the future. Hence the need of the hour is to expedite a comprehensive plan to avoid disaster.