Everybody has a stake in reducing carbon emissions, but for island nations the consequences of carbon-induced climate warming are the complete loss of nationhood. Islands in the Philippines, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Maldives and many more will soon have nothing to leave their children except perhaps rights to the territorial waters covering their homelands.
According to the BBC report, consensus was delayed by delegates from China and India who disputed the agreement's call for all nations to make "commitments," arguing for their status as "developing" nations to exempt them from the same carbon reduction efforts as "rich" countries (like us). The agreement's final wording instead said "contributions."
On the same day the conference ended, the BBC reported, "China extends its national defense perimeter to include islands in the East China Sea also claimed by Japan, which has protested at an 'escalation'."
China's grasp reaches into the South China Sea as well, toward the embattled Philippines. A Philippine-based Facebook page announces "A patriotic community to kick-off the Chinese's butts out of the West Philippine Sea and outlaying waters, island-territories, as per UNCLOS law, and maintain the EEZ of the Philippines to free from envious foreign invaders. God bless The Philippines!"
Here at home we gave China and other Far East nations our manufacturing jobs at a huge cost -- low-wage jobs, unemployment, increased demands on government services and non-profits (and abuse of the people who now work at those jobs in places like Cambodia, India, Vietnam and Bangladesh). Now China wants to style itself as a "developing" nation.
China's inertia regarding its massive pollution problem is astonishing. The air in its cities is unbreathable; people of all ages including children are dying of lung cancer. This is communism? Looks more like capitalism with all of the greed intact but none of the common sense. When the island nations are underwater in a couple decades, it just means more uncontested ocean territory for China -- is this the mindset?
Labeling the U.S. as "rich" denies us the credits given to "developing" nations to preserve forests. Our rainforests continue to be decimated by unsustainable practices, including fracking. The U.S. should receive economic credit for maintaining our woodland, same as "developing" nations.
Everybody must make commitments and contributions to address this greatest challenge humankind has ever faced. We're all in the same boat. From the Philippines to the coastal cities of every continent.
As Voice of America news in May 2011 quoted ambassador Antonio Lima of the Cape Verde Islands:
“We are the sentinels of the world, the small island developing states. We are sentinels of the world. What is happening to us will happen to all of us tomorrow."