After his regrettable no-show at last week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila, Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has rightly confirmed his presence at the UN conference on climate change, COP21, in Paris later this month.
There are at least two reasons to support his Paris visit.
First, the President is sending a strong message of solidarity and friendship to the French people who were rocked by recent acts of terrorism. As the leader of the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, Mr Joko's presence at the conference will be very meaningful because, like it or not, the heinous attacks were committed in the name of Islam.The second reason the President should attend the Paris summit is that he will have an opportunity to explain to the world what caused the recent forest fires and the subsequent deadly haze disaster.
The choking haze claimed several lives and made ill tens of thousands of people, and adversely affected neighbours such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
We hope the President will honestly acknowledge that Indonesia has committed large-scale environmental destruction.
A defensive speech will only make Indonesia's reputation in the international community even worse.
Only if Indonesia is transparent and accountable in addressing the problem of the fires will the world step forward to help the country combat the slash-and-burn practices, as well as illegal logging, that have devoured the country's tropical forests.
What I expect from the conference
Ban Ki Moon, The Nation
As the head of the United Nations, I have prioritised climate change because no country can meet this challenge alone.
Climate change carries no passport; emissions released anywhere contribute to the problem everywhere.
It is a threat to lives and livelihoods everywhere. Economic stability and the security of nations are under threat. Only through the United Nations (UN) can we respond collectively to this quintessentially global issue.
The negotiation process has been slow and cumbersome.
But we are seeing results.
In response to the UN's call, more than 166 countries, which collectively account for more than 90 per cent of emissions, have now submitted national climate plans with targets.
If successfully implemented, these national plans bend the emissions curve down to a projected global temperature rise of approximately 3 deg C by the end of the century.
This is significant progress. But it is still not enough. The challenge now is to move much further and faster to reduce global emissions so that we can keep global temperature rise to below 2C (2 deg C).
At the same time, we must support countries to adapt to the inevitable consequences.
The sooner we act, the greater the benefits for all: Increased stability and security; stronger, more sustainable economic growth; enhanced resilience to shocks; cleaner air and water; and improved health.
We will not get there overnight.
The climate change conference in Paris is not the end point. It must mark the floor, not the ceiling, of our ambition. It must be the turning point towards a low-emission, climate-resilient future.
I see four essential elements for Paris to be a success - durability, flexibility, solidarity and credibility.
First, durability. Paris must provide a long-term vision consistent with a below 2C trajectory, and send a clear signal to markets that the low-carbon transformation of the global economy is inevitable, beneficial and already under way.
Second, the agreement must provide flexibility so it does not need to be continually renegotiated. It must be able to accommodate changes in the global economy and strike a balance between the leadership role of developed countries and the increasing responsibilities of developing countries.
Third, the agreement must demonstrate solidarity, including through financing and technology transfer for developing countries. Developed countries must keep their pledge to provide US$100 billion (S$141 billion) a year by 2020 for adaptation and mitigation alike.
Fourth, an agreement must demonstrate credibility in responding to rapidly escalating climate impacts. It must include regular five-year cycles for governments to assess and strengthen their national climate plans in line with what science demands. Paris must also include transparent and robust mechanisms for measuring, monitoring and reporting progress.
The UN stands fully ready to support countries in implementing such an agreement.
A deal needed for green growth
Zhu Qiwen, China Daily
Global leaders should not allow their countries' current economic woes to dent their ambition to reach an agreement on transforming the world economy towards a low-carbon future.
Instead, they should do their best to achieve a climate deal that will not only reduce mankind's exposure to increasingly severe weather-related disasters but also, more importantly, help create green economic growth and jobs.
In November last year, the United States and China agreed that the US will cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26 to 28 per cent before 2025 and China will peak its carbon emissions by 2030, while aiming to get 20 per cent of its energy from zero-emission sources by the same year.
Equally important is global businesses' support for an ambitious deal in Paris that could give a huge boost to their confidence to invest heavily in long-term green growth.
When I went to Copenhagen in 2009 to cover the climate talks, electric cars were shown to the media as a kind of fancy high-tech luxury. Now, as I pass the public charging poles near my home in Beijing, surrounded by more and more electric cars, I have become quite confident in telling my eight-year-old son that our next car will definitely be an electric one.
Sales of new energy cars almost tripled in China in the first 10 months of this year. And the huge potential of the Chinese market ought to be a good reason not only for automakers at home and abroad to go green as fast as possible, but also for world leaders to try and reach a deal in Paris.
•The View From Asia is a weekly compilation of articles from The Straits Times' media partner Asia News Network, a grouping of 22 newspapers. For more, see www.asianewsnet.net
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