Hesitant progress amid shuffling feet

Beatrice Yeung, Hong Kong International School

Important steps have been taken in the good direction in Cancun, but the globe's future continues to hang in the balance

Beatrice Yeung, Hong Kong International School |

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The recent climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, didn't yield revolutionary results. But they did at least take a modest step forward in addressing environmental issues.

For a start, there was a more definite sense of co-operation among nations than at last year'sconference in Copenhagen. There was much less finger pointing and petty bickering. The conference laid a sound foundation for meaningful, long-term global action.

The climate talks ended with several agreements and global consensus on the need for action on concrete goals like emission reduction. Some 80 countries, including all major economies, signed agreements that require the world's largest emitters and worst polluters to commit to targets by 2020.

Another breakthrough came in the form of an official UN agreement that requires countries to work towards keeping temperature increases below a global average of 2 degrees Celsius.

Participants also agreed to transfer clean energy technologies to developing countries to help them better cope with the effects of climate change. Unlike in Copenhagen, most governments were prepared to share the financial burden in a responsible manner.

Yet despite such progress in Cancun, there is a long way to go, considering the urgency of the issue. Rich countries continue to drag their feet and refuse to commit adequate funds and resources. They haven't pledged enough money to help developing countries embrace green technologies and sustainable development.

A pledge of US$100 billion a year in climate aid is simply not enough. Developed countries aren't ready to negotiate in truly good faith.

The strongest economies are the biggest polluters. They must accept their share of responsibility for global environmental problems.

Developing countries simply cannot afford to play their part if they do not have the funds to do so.

Although there has been progress made in Cancun, the proposed measures barely satisfy the minimum requirements of what is needed to set the global environment in order.

We have cause to be optimistic now that the Cancun climate talks have placed some concrete proposals on the table.

Yet we have little time left for dallying further. The health of the planet is in dire straits. We must address issues with greater urgency before it's too late.

Beatrice Yeung Hong Kong International School