UN General Assembly: new climate ambitions?
The 76th United Nations General Assembly ends on Friday. The major topic is clear: the climate emergency. Secretary-General António Guterres warned on Tuesday that the world was "on the edge of an abyss". Then came the announcements: China will stop building coal-fired power plants abroad and Turkey wants to join the Paris Agreement. Welcome developments but still not enough, commentators stress.
An important signal from Beijing
For Der Tagesspiegel it's clear that economic considerations are behind China's plans:
“Coal-fired power plants are now in the red almost everywhere. And in China, too, banks are openly discussing how to withdraw from the coal business. ... But Xi's announcement should not be overrated. He hasn't announced any new climate targets. The demand for coal within China will continue to rise until 2025 and emissions will only decrease after 2030. The country does not plan to become climate-neutral until 2060. ... So China is just giving the Paris climate agreement its little finger instead of its whole hand. And yet the country is sending a hugely important signal to the world: if coal giant China can make such a concession, so can others.”
Help developing countries make the transition
Turkey wants join the Paris Climate Agreement, the the last G-20 country to do so. For years Erdoğan has demanded financial aid in the event of his country joining the pact. And rightly so, writes the pro-government Yeni Şafak:
“Industrialised countries that pollute the world or cause global warming must support developing countries in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. This is because developing countries consume more energy in their efforts to increase their economic growth. ... If Turkey, as a developing country, receives international financial support, it plans to reduce its emissions even further.”
Even rivals must cooperate on climate
Gazeta Wyborcza hopes that the enormity of the challenge will lead to closer cooperation between China and the US:
“The two rivals, the US and China, are increasingly divided. ... But the climate is forcing both countries to build bridges. The precedent is there [after tough negotiations the USA and China agreed in 2014 to significantly reduce their emissions]. The negotiations led to the Paris Agreement. ... Experts agree that the only way to save the planet is to abandon fossil fuels and reduce emissions. ... Behind every Chinese power plant, however, there are the interests of the local bureaucracy and thousands of jobs.”
The simplest solution is being ignored
Biologist Stefano Mancuso vents his frustration in La Repubblica:
“There's constant talk about nothing but the great economic opportunities associated with ecological change. ... But the idea that avoiding an environmental catastrophe provides an opportunity for economic growth seems unreasonable to me. As long as we're not prepared to pay for repairing the damage we've done, atmospheric CO2 will continue to increase. ... There is a simple solution: plant trees. Not just a few. A trillion would be needed. This is not an impossible task. The costs would be insignificant compared to the benefits, and it would allow us to achieve something we can only dream of at present: a reduction in the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.”