56 newspapers across the world share one common editorial on Copenhagen

7.12.2009   (Guardian)

Tomorrow 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through
a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency.

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers
have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak:
11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is
melting and last year’s inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future
havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to
blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the
world’s response has been feeble and half-hearted.

Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure
for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14
days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen
not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize
opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a
fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate
change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.

The science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps
to limit temperature rises to 2C, an aim that will require global emissions to
peak and begin falling within the next 5-10 years. A bigger rise of 3-4C — the
smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction — would parch continents,
turning farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold
millions of people would be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea. The controversy
over emails by British researchers that suggest they tried to suppress inconvenient
data has muddied the waters but failed to dent the mass of evidence on which these
predictions are based.

Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real
progress towards one could only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the
White House and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world
finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for the president cannot
fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so.

But the politicians in Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of
a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into
a treaty. Next June’s UN climate meeting in Bonn should be their deadline. As
one negotiator put it: “We can go into extra time but we can’t afford a replay.”

At the deal’s heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing
world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided — and
how we will share a newly precious resource: the trillion or so tonnes of carbon
that we can emit before the mercury rises to dangerous levels.

Rich nations like to point to the arithmetic truth that there can be no solution
until developing giants such as China take more radical steps than they have so
far. But the rich world is responsible for most of the accumulated carbon in the
atmosphere – three-quarters of all carbon dioxide emitted since 1850. It must
now take a lead, and every developed country must commit to deep cuts which will
reduce their emissions within a decade to very substantially less than their 1990

Developing countries can point out they did not cause the bulk of the problem,
and also that the poorest regions of the world will be hardest hit. But they will
increasingly contribute to warming, and must thus pledge meaningful and quantifiable
action of their own. Though both fell short of what some had hoped for, the recent
commitments to emissions targets by the world’s biggest polluters, the United
States and China, were important steps in the right direction.

Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets
and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies
to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions. The architecture
of a future treaty must also be pinned down – with rigorous multilateral monitoring,
fair rewards for protecting forests, and the credible assessment of “exported
emissions” so that the burden can eventually be more equitably shared between
those who produce polluting products and those who consume them. And fairness
requires that the burden placed on individual developed countries should take
into account their ability to bear it; for instance newer EU members, often much
poorer than “old Europe”, must not suffer more than their richer partners.

The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing
out global finance — and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing.

Many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles.
The era of flights that cost less than the taxi ride to the airport is drawing
to a close. We will have to shop, eat and travel more intelligently. We will have
to pay more for our energy, and use less of it.

But the shift to a low-carbon society holds out the prospect of more opportunity
than sacrifice. Already some countries have recognized that embracing the transformation
can bring growth, jobs and better quality lives. The flow of capital tells its
own story: last year for the first time more was invested in renewable forms of
energy than producing electricity from fossil fuels.

Kicking our carbon habit within a few short decades will require a feat of engineering
and innovation to match anything in our history. But whereas putting a man on
the moon or splitting the atom were born of conflict and competition, the coming
carbon race must be driven by a collaborative effort to achieve collective salvation.

Overcoming climate change will take a triumph of optimism over pessimism, of
vision over short-sightedness, of what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels
of our nature”.

It is in that spirit that 56 newspapers from around the world have united behind
this editorial. If we, with such different national and political perspectives,
can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too.

The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history’s judgment on this
generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we
saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right


This editorial will be published tomorrow by 56 newspapers around the world in
20 languages including Chinese, Arabic and Russian. The text was drafted by a
Guardian team during more than a month of consultations with editors from more
than 20 of the papers involved. Like
the Guardian most of the newspapers have taken the unusual step of featuring the editorial
on their front page.
see also
The Hindu – the same editorial
see also
How the climate change global editorial project came about
The papers running the editorial are:
(in the UK it is just the Guardian)

COP 15 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen editorial leader project




Asia: 16 papers from 13 countries


Economic Observer, China Chinese

Southern Metropolitan, China Chinese

CommonWealth Magazine, Taiwan English

Joongang Ilbo, South Korea Korean

Tuoitre, Vietnam Vietnamese

Brunei Times, Brunei English

Jakarta Globe, Indonesia English

Cambodia Daily, Cambodia English

The Hindu, India English

The Daily Star, Bangladesh English

The News, Pakistan English

Daily Times, Pakistan English

Gulf News, Dubai English

An Nahar, Lebanon Arabic

Gulf Times, Qatar English

Maariv, Israel Hebrew



Europe – 20 papers from 17 countries


Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany German

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland Polish

Der Standard, Austria German

Delo, Slovenia Slovene

Vecer, Slovenia Slovene

Dagbladet Information, Denmark Danish

Politiken, Denmark Danish

Dagbladet, Norway Norwegian

The Guardian, UK English

Le Monde, France French

Libération, France French

La Reppublica, Italy Italian

El Pais, Spain Spanish

De Volkskrant, Netherlands Dutch

Kathimerini, Greece Greek

Publico, Portugal Portuguese

Hurriyet, Turkey Turkish

Novaya Gazeta, Russia Russian

Irish Times, Ireland English

Le Temps, Switzerland French



Africa – 11 papers from eight countries


The Star, Kenya English

Daily Monitor, Uganda English

The New Vision, Uganda English

Zimbabwe Independent, Zimbabwe English

The New Times, Rwanda English

The Citizen, Tanzania English

Al Shorouk, Egypt Arabic

Botswana Guardian, Botswana English

Mail & Guardian, South Africa English

Business Day, South Africa English

Cape Argus, South Africa English



North and Central America – six papers from five countries


Toronto Star, Canada English

Miami Herald, USA English

El Nuevo Herald, USA Spanish

Jamaica Observer, Jamaica English

La Brujula Semanal, Nicaragua Spanish

El Universal, Mexico Spanish



South America – three papers from two countries


Zero Hora, Brazil Portuguese

Diario Catarinense, Brazil Portuguese

Diaro Clarin, Argentina Spanish