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Nigel Sheinwald
Ambassador

Nigel Sheinwald

Nigel Sheinwald is the British ambassador to the United States. Prior to this he served as Foreign Policy and Defense Adviser to the Prime Minister from 2003 to 2007. ALL POSTS

Global problem needs global solution

This week's response comes from Dominick Chilcott, the deputy head of mission for the British Embassy in Washington.

Q: Almost every key question at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen comes down to how should rich and poor countries shoulder responsibility for climate change. What would be a way of reconciling these differences?

Climate change is a global problem requiring a global solution. This means all nations must work together to solve it -- urgently -- if we want to keep a stable climate.

That said different countries are in very different situations. Most of us see three broad categories of nations: developed countries, who have historically contributed the bulk of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; least developed countries, who emit very little but stand to suffer the most from climate change; and major emerging economies such as China and India, whose emissions are growing rapidly and, in China's case, overtaking the U.S. as the world's largest emitter.

So a deal in Copenhagen must work for all three groups, while still remaining effective and ambitious. The science tells us that we need to halve global emissions by 2050. To achieve this goal, developed countries should commit to reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050, with emissions starting to decline in the next ten years.

Major emerging economies should take serious action to cut their emissions and move quickly toward adopting binding targets to ensure that economic growth gets on a low carbon path. And the least developed countries need to set out adaptation plans to cope with the impact of climate change. To help achieve this goal, the Prime Minister has proposed the Copenhagen Launch Fund, which provides short-term funding of $10 billion a year.

To reconcile national differences, we all must recognize that a global agreement is not just in the interest of one set of nations. International negotiations are very often 1 percent inspiration and 99% perspiration and our leaders will certainly need to show persistence and be prepared to go further in commitments than they have so far. There is no single way to unlock the negotiations, only a shared acknowledgement of the problem if leaders do not make progress.

It is in the interests of every nation to work towards a cleaner and more secure economic future. "National interests" are powerful motivators, but sea level rise, drought, and more intense weather events have no respect for national borders. When it comes to climate change, we will sink or swim together.

By Nigel Sheinwald  |  December 16, 2009; 2:10 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg     Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Comments

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Far be it from me to disrespect someone's religion, but this climate change cult is now a threat to the poor. They have convinced the world to join their wind-mill chasing crusade, diverting attention from the real problem in the world--poverty. Like all obsessed cultists, they are cruel to anyone who stands in their way. These fundamentalists will brook no dissent and will tolerate no prosperity until the whole world is under submission (i.e. socialism and economic justice).

Posted by: vanhook99 | December 22, 2009 11:19 AM
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Well written and a pleasure to read. I found your description of three categories of nations and their respective problems and responsibilities especially helpful.

Posted by: post-it2 | December 18, 2009 2:16 AM
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He's right, this very real problem needs a global solution. Most of the world is well-educated of the facts behind this crisis. Unfortunately, we have the highest rate of stooges for propagandists and spin machines, from Fox "News" to Cheney's foundation for liars.

Posted by: revbookburn | December 16, 2009 10:06 PM
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Somebody please explain to this guy
that there has never been any such
thing as "Stable Climate" on this
planet for at least the past several
hundred million years. Where do they
get these people. United Way/Good Will
Casual Day Labor?

Posted by: iamredwolf | December 16, 2009 9:09 PM
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