The View From Asia

Slowing climate change not just about making promises

Asia News Network writers argue that more must be done to counter climate change. Here are excerpts.

A man passing the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Power Generator Company coal power plant in Shanghai. PHOTO: AFP

Japan should not lag behind


The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan

To prevent global warming, there is a rapid increase around the world in the number of initiatives aiming to switch from gasoline-powered vehicles to those powered by electricity and other cleaner energy sources.

The Japanese government also must accelerate efforts towards this goal in tandem with the private sector.

The government aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

In fiscal 2018, 16 per cent of Japan's carbon dioxide emissions came from automobiles.
To achieve the emissions goal, it is essential for the nation to shift to electric vehicles.

While Tesla of the United States and other manufacturers overseas are increasing their sales of electric vehicles, Japanese automakers have little presence.

For Japan to be left behind in this field, it will likely lose its competitiveness in the automobile industry, a key sector for the nation, and cause Japan's entire economy to be hit hard.

Are we winning the race?

Quamrul Haidar

The Daily Star, Bangladesh

Dec 11 marked the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement hammered out by more than 190 countries at the 21st Conference of the Parties.

The core objective of the accord is to save humanity from the existential threat posed by climate change.

To that end, the participating nations agreed to keep the increase in the average global temperature to 2 deg C while endeavouring to limit it to 1.5 deg C by 2100.

Besides pledging to temper the rise in temperature, they agreed to restructure the global economy, phase out fossil fuels over the coming decades, switch to renewable sources of energy, embrace clean technology and, most importantly, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.

The accord gives every country the ability to set its own goals to confront the climate crisis, in line with their specific situation.

Moreover, instead of demanding expeditious and deep cuts in fossil fuel usage, it allows parties to peak greenhouse gas emissions "as soon as possible" followed by a gradual decrease to reach the zero emissions goal.

It is patently evident that such a vague timetable fits the interests of the major polluters, including the United States, China and India.

Nevertheless, beginning this year, each nation is required to reassess its own reduction plans once every five years. However, there is no consequence or penalty if a country fails to reassess or falls short of the pledged reductions.

Are we winning the race against climate change?

Did we succeed in slowing down the carnage resulting from climate change?

By all accounts, the accord did not make an iota of difference in decelerating the progression of our planet, and subsequently our civilisation, towards climatological meltdown.

On the contrary, climate change and its deleterious effects are accelerating, with climate-related catastrophes piling up, year after year.

Our planet is now almost at the breaking point. The environmental changes sweeping across the world are occurring at a much quicker pace than five years ago.

Much still to be done


China Daily, China

At least 24 countries have now announced new commitments, strategies or plans to reach net zero or carbon neutrality.

But, as United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, that is not yet enough.

The sense of urgency he was trying to impart is verified by the fact that not only are the commitments made in the Paris Agreement far from enough to realise the target of limiting the temperature rise by the end of this century to 1.5 deg C from the pre-industrial level, but those commitments are not being met by many countries.

Mr Guterres called on all leaders worldwide to declare a state of climate emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached. But so far, only 38 countries have done so.

China on its part will lower its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product by over 65 per cent from the 2005 level by 2030, and bring its total installed capacity of wind and solar power to over 1.2 billion kilowatts, President Xi Jinping said in his speech.

But he also pointed out that developed countries need to scale up their support for developing countries in financing, technology and capacity building.

As such, after tussling on climate issues for decades, although tremendous efforts are being made to cut emissions, there remains a gap between what should be done and what can be done.

Climate catastrophe nearing


Sin Chew Daily, Malaysia

If we do not do anything to stop the destruction of our delicate environment, there will be an "irreversible backlash" from Mother Nature once the tolerance of our planet earth has been stretched beyond the limit.

China and the United States are the world's two biggest emitters.

Of the 37.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from industrial activities and the use of petrochemical fuels worldwide in 2018, China contributed 10.3 tonnes or 27.5 per cent of the total, followed by the US at 5.4 billion tonnes or 14.4 per cent of total.

Together, these two countries contributed 42 per cent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions.

The situation has not improved after the Paris Agreement went into effect, and 2020 marks the third-hottest year in history.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that we are very close to a climate catastrophe.

Concerted efforts by nations to cut carbon emissions are our only bet for the survival of ourselves and our children.

• The View From Asia is a compilation of articles from The Straits Times' media partner Asia News Network, a grouping of 23 news media titles.

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