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雅思阅读考试·:In Glare of Climate Talks

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  雅思阅读:In Glare of Climate Talks, Taking On Too Great a Task

 

  DURBAN, South Africa — For 17 years, officials from nearly 200 countries have gathered under the auspices of the United Nations to try to deal with one of the most vexing questions of our era — how to slow the heating of the planet.

  Every year they leave a trail of disillusion and discontent, particularly among the poorest nations and those most vulnerable to rising seas and spreading deserts. Every year they fail to significantly advance their own stated goal of keeping the average global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, or about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels.

  That was the case again this year. The event, the 17th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, wrapped up early Sunday morning with modest accomplishments: the promise to work toward a new global treaty in coming years and the establishment of a new climate fund.

  The decision to move toward a new treaty — and toward replacing the 20-year-old system that requires only industrialized nations to cut emissions — was hard-won, after 72 hours of continuous wrangling. But for now it remains merely a pledge, and all details remain to be negotiated.

  Negotiators also left for another day the precise sources of the money for the fund and how and by who it would be disbursed. Called the Green Climate Fund, it would help mobilize a promised $100 billion a year in public and private funds by 2020 to assist developing nations in adapting to climate change and converting to clean energy sources.

  There is no denying the dedication and stamina of the environment ministers and diplomats who conduct these talks. But maybe the task is too tall. The issues on the table are far broader than atmospheric carbon levels or forestry practices or how to devise a fund to compensate those most affected by global warming.

  What really is at play here are politics on the broadest scale, the relations among Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan and three rapidly rising economic powers, China, India and Brazil. Those relations, in turn, are driven by each country's domestic politics and the strains the global financial crisis has put on all of them. And the question of "climate equity" — the obligations of rich nations to help poor countries cope with a problem they had no part in creating — is more than an "environmental" issue.

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