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"Civil action is the climate's last hope"

At a time when international climate negotiations have effectively ground to a halt, nearly 40 green organisations in China have launched a civil climate campaign aiming to fill the gap with citizen action.

Unveiled on September 19, "C + climate citizens" hopes to push trades and professions to adopt measures needed for the government to meet, or even surpass its promised emissions-reduction targets. The idea is to compensate for shortfalls in action by the government itself, and, more to the point, the governments of developed nations.

"Civil action is the last hope for solving the climate problem," said Chen Jiliang, a supporter of the campaign and founder of the China Civil Climate Change Action Network.

One of the people behind the launch is Yang Fuqiang, a consultant to US-based NGO the Natural Resources Defense Council. He said that, because the emission-reduction targets countries have committed to throughout the international negotiation process have been insufficient to tackle climate change, the longer the negotiations continue, the bigger the discrepancy will be between the required cuts and the promised cuts.

If this trend continues, there is a more than a 65% chance a rise in temperature by four-degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures by 2050, he said, adding that studies have suggested temperature increases of this magnitude would lead to a decline in cereal crops in major grain producing areas and accelerated shrinking of the great Himalayan glaciers.

Climate change is already causing frequent climate disasters on a global scale, and as temperatures rise, the likelihood of extreme weather and climate change disasters in China will further increase, resulting in economic losses amounting to an average of 200 billion yuan per year, Yang said.

At the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, the Chinese government committed to reducing carbon intensity by 40% to 45% by 2020. Yang Fuqiang said that addressing climate change is not just the responsibility of the government, but also bottom-up forces of civil society, and this requires all trades and professions, as well as every individual, to become involved and take action.

"C +" has three meanings: The first is to surpass national targets; the second is to overcome climate change, which can be construed to also include "transforming the economic development model, taking the route of low-carbon, sustainable development"; and the third is to go beyond China's borders to promote global public action.

The "C + climate citizens" campaign will include actions by businesses, schools, urban neighbourhoods, villages and individuals. It will establish an independent audit certification platform to allow the carbon emissions of any project that has signed up to C+ to be measurable, reportable and verifiable.

This programme intends to hold a side meeting at the next UN-led climate conference (COP17) in Durban at the end of this year to introduce C+ and its cases to the international community. The first phase of the C + campaign will carry out accounting and certification in 2015.

Yang Fuqiang said: "We hope this event will eventually get the support of senior government officials. When compared to civilians, their influence is much stronger. We welcome president Hu Jintao and other senior leaders and their families or individuals to participate in this action. "

translated by chinadialogue volunteer Anita Erling.

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