China seeks balanced, pragmatic deal in Paris

Updated: 2015-12-11 23:08

By Lan Lan(China Daily)

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The most meaningful “high ambition” in the Paris Climate Change Conference is to ensure a comprehensive, balanced and pragmatic agreement can be reached in the coming hours as delegates prepare to stay one day after the official end of the gathering, Chinese officials said on Friday.

President Xi Jinping spoke on Friday by phone with US President Barack Obama to discuss a number of issues, including the ongoing climate negotiations.

Xi said China and the US should increase their coordination and make joint efforts to reach a climate change agreement that benefits the international community.

On the eve of the new scheduled close of the climate negotiations, countries should focus on consensus and ensure an agreement is reached in a “pragmatic and cooperative” way, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news conference in Beijing on Friday.

Not being a part of the coalition of “high ambition” doesn’t mean China has less ambition in advancing the United Nations climate change talks toward as successful Paris outcome, she said.

Hua was referring to the emergence in Paris on Wednesday of a new group called the coalition of high ambition, which claimed to represent more than 90 countries. Later, the European Union and the United States announced they were joining the group.

“China is as ambitious as other parties in advancing Paris toward building an ambitious global mechanism for addressing climate change, and there is no issue of who has been excluded,” Hua said.

The group demands that the final deal recognize the proposed 1.5 C cap on the average global temperature rise from the preindustrial era, a more ambitious goal than the previous 2 C goal set at the Copenhagen Climate conference in 2009.

Key divergences remained in the negotiating text put on table late on Thursday.

As of Friday, the text included a goal of limiting the temperature rise to well below 2 C, and a reference was made to a 1.5 C limit.

Tasneem Essop, the World Wildlife Fund’s head of delegation to the Paris talks, said that version signals a stronger intention to cut emissions, but countries need to outline how they intend to achieve these goals.

Li Junfeng, director general of climate change strategy at the National Development and Reform Commission, said the suddenly emerged “coalition of high ambition” has diverted attention from pragmatic action.

“It took too much time to discuss the issue of the 1.5 goal. More important issues — such as finance, legally binding and ambition — have been neglected,” Li said.

“Higher ambition is positive, but it’s too rushed. All economic models and plans were built on the basis of the 2 C goal. A hollow ambition has hindered pragmatic action and dragged on progress in the negotiations,” Li said.

On Thursday, Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute said, “It’s clear that the real negotiations have finally begun”.

“In the coming hours, negotiators need to work constructively and find common ground to ensure that the text progresses along an ambitious and balanced path,” she said.