United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 20, 2015
Executive Summary: After many wasted years, the The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP21, has finally replaced the Kyoto Protocol as the global standard for carbon reduction. The Rio Earth Summit of 1992 replaced the term “global responsibility” with the term "responsibility of individual nations". The Paris climate conference redefines global warming as "the responsibility of everyone on earth". This is an important breakthrough. Only a world-wide transition to a low-carbon economy that stresses a new low-carbon planetary ethic, can address the global warming crisis.
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After many wasted years, the The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP21, has finally replaced the Kyoto Protocol as the global standard for carbon reduction. The Rio Earth Summit of 1992 replaced the term “global responsibility” with the term "responsibility of individual nations". The Paris climate conference redefines global warming as "the responsibility of everyone on earth". This is an important breakthrough. Only a world-wide transition to a low-carbon economy that stresses a new low-carbon planetary ethic, can address the global warming crisis.
After 14 sleepless days and nights, differences in the 40 page Paris climate conference were resolved, one by one. This reveals the international community's shared alarm over global warming. Developed nations once shirked responsibility for reducing carbon emissions because global warming lacked the necessary scientific evidence. Now however, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has published alarming earth monitoring data changes. This has increased urgency with regards global warming.
Differences persist, but governments are gradually moving toward carbon reduction. Global warming now has sufficient scientific support. Even high-latitude countries that benefit from global warming are embarrassed about ignoring the facts for their own benefit. This was a major step forward for the Paris climate conference. It affirmed a low-carbon global ethic. It transcended the industrial revolution's blind pursuit of production efficiency.
A sense of crisis enabled representatives of participating governments to acknowledge the importance of an early start on global carbon reduction. Therefore the Paris climate conference should not be criticized for excessive compromise. Governments the world over now acknowledge the global warming crisis. Instead of waiting for everyone to get on board before starting, it is better to seize the moment. It is better to act first and talk later.
It is precisely for this reason that the Paris climate conference is rife with compromise. From another perspective, it is like a baseball game in which hits substitute for runs, and use squeeze play tactics. The warming crisis is imminent. We can hardly wait for everyone to regroup. We must rush to the front lines and do battle. That is essential. The Paris climate conference is deeply compromised. It makes concessions to major powers. But it sought a common denominator, a new platform, in an effort to get everyone on the same page.
The new accord may be compromised, but it remains idealistic. Everyone knew the difficulties faced, but the accord informed the world about our plight. It established carbon reduction targets ensuring that global warming does not exceed 2 ℃. This was known to be an obstacle, roughly equivalent to setting carbon dioxide concentrations at 450 PPM. But the accord specified that everyone would “attempt to achieve 1.5 ℃”, roughly equivalent to 350 PPM. In fact, that is is an impossible goal, since this year's surface carbon values have already exceeded 400 PPM. But as the Paris climate conference slogan put it, “No Plan B”.
What is Taiwan's role in the new climate accord? To no one's surprise, no clear statement has been issued. But the Paris climate conference included the term "participation by interested non-member parties”. This is nothing to rejoice about. It does not mean the international community recognizes Taiwan's contribution. The fact is membership in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is virtually identical to membership in the United Nations. That means our lack of rights is irrelevant. The international community's carbon emissions expectations for Taiwan remain unchanged.
In fact, the international community imposed carbon reduction targets for Taiwan long ago. The German environmental organization "Germanwatch” published this year's global climate change rankings during the conference. The ROC ranked 52 out of 58 nations, and its record was classified as "very bad". This was the evaluation of a single environmental organization. But 1,000 international environmental groups took part in the summit and monitored UNFCCC carbon reduction performance. They could hardly overlook the fact that Taiwan ranked 24th in carbon emissions the world over.
Invisible business community oversight is another important factor. Over a thousand of the world's top business executives participated in the conference. Before entering the venue, they exchanged views on the sidelines. They sought to introduce a new generation of energy-saving technology, and fill the obvious gap left by the Paris climate conference. Non governmental organizations and the business community have behaved contemptibly. They have hidden in the shadows while putting on an act for the public. Carbon emissions on Taiwan continue to rise. This is unforgiveable.
The Paris climate conference deleted the term "restitution for damages". How will the 100 billion USD per year green fund be amortized? No need for worry. The conference successfully transferred responsibility for global warming from developed nations to the world as a whole. This lends the agreement greater force. As for the carbon market, carbon trading is not included in the agreement. This means that “everyone on earth" recognizes the fact of global warming and responds, with an emphasis on self-discipline.
Host nation France played a key role in the birth of the Paris summit. For France this was a plus. But the participating governments have their own interests to consider. They will not necessarily hold high the banner of morality. They still require active monitoring. People must confront the scientific evidence of global warming. Even if they are still playing the game of international politics, they must recognize this fact.
Taiwan's carbon reduction regime is already in place. For the moment, all we can do is persist, making sure that the international community appreciates our contribution to carbon reduction.
終於突破萬難而告誕生。這項國際法文字最關鍵的意義， 是針對一九九二年里約地球高峰會刪除「全球」字眼轉而強調「 各國責任」之決議作出了修正，重新定位遏止地球暖化是「 所有地球人的責任」，這是重要的突破。唯有全球轉型為低碳經濟， 強調低碳倫理的新地球觀，才能克服暖化的毀滅危機。
巴黎協議對滿滿四十頁的歧見逐一克服， 顯示國際社會對暖化的共同警覺。 以往已開發國家輕易推卸減碳責任，是因暖化證據的科學支撐不夠， 如今不止世界氣象組織（WMO）發佈的監測數字讓人驚心， 多項監看地球變化的數據，也讓人們對暖化有眼前的迫切感。
關鍵在於暖化的事實已有足夠的科學證據支撐； 即使是因暖化而獲利的高緯度國家， 也不好意思再為一己的利益而昧於事實。 這是巴黎協議跨出的一大步，確認低碳是全球存續倫理， 超越之前幾個工業革命一味追求生產效能的偏頗。
讓與會各國代表深刻體認及早啟動全球減碳之路的重要；故而， 不必苛責巴黎協議的妥協性太高。事到如今， 地球上的國家都認識到暖化危機當前， 與其蹉跎等待整好隊伍再出發，不如把握眼前可施力的片刻， 先做再說。
其實形同棒球比賽的打帶跑、強迫取分戰術。 暖化危機業已迫在眉睫，哪還有時間等著所有人著裝整隊， 立刻上陣應戰才是最重要。故而巴黎協議的高度妥協色彩， 與其解釋為對國際強權的讓步，不如說是尋求「最大公約數」， 大家在新的平台尋求交集，同步出發。
但也要昭告世人：什麼才是人類宜居的情境。 設定減排目標不超過增溫2℃，這是人人皆知的屏障， 約等於二氧化碳濃度四五○PPM；但協議更列上「向1.5℃ 努力」，這等於三五○PPM的目標，其實是「不可能的目標」， 因為今年的地表二氧化碳值已破了四百之表。然巴黎峰會如此揭示， 標誌「雖不能至，心嚮往之」。
但巴黎協議出現「非締約方利害關係人參與」的文字， 這不必欣喜解讀為國際社會認知台灣參與的事實。事實是，《 氣候綱要公約》（UNFCCC） 的締約國幾乎等同於聯合國會員國，這意味不管權利如何， 國際社會課予台灣的減碳義務不會少掉分毫。
看守德國」發佈今年全球氣候變遷績效指標排名， 台灣在五十八個被評比國家中排名第五十二，列等「非常糟糕」。 這雖僅是單一環保組織的評價， 但事實上此次峰會有近千個國際環保團體與會，監督任一UNFCC C締約國的減碳實績， 當然不可能漏掉全球碳排放量高居第二十四的台灣。
全球頂尖企業極高階經理人超過一千人與會，他們為了進會場發聲， 先在場外密集交換意見，意圖以新世代的節能技術突破， 補上巴黎協議冠冕堂皇不可及之處。民間組織和企業界最不齒的， 是躲在暗處陽奉陰違的行徑，台灣持續攀升的排碳數據， 自無法自圓其說。
以及每年一千億美元的綠色基金將如何攤提，其實不必太過在意。 這項協議成功地轉移「已開發國家」 的暖化責任為所有地球人的責任，都能讓協議發揮更大力量。 至於碳市場、碳交易不列入協議文字，則意味「所有地球人」 皆認知暖化事實並起而行，強調的是意識的覺醒與行為的自主管理。
但與會各國在自家利益考量下，未必因此而高舉道德旗幟， 仍須積極監督追蹤。人們應該正視的是，暖化是有科學證據的事實， 即使仍在玩國際政治遊戲的人，亦不能不承認這一事實。