China sees progress at Doha talks

Updated: 2012-12-07 08:51

By Wu Wencong and Lan Lan (China Daily)

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 China sees progress at Doha talks

"Dear negotiators, your decisions must reflect their demands" was the message that youths conveyed to delegates at the UN climate change conference in Doha, Qatar, from Nov 26 to Dec 7. Wu Wencong / China Daily

But many disagreements on what to do about climate change remain, delegation head says

Progress has been made in nine days of negotiations on climate change in Doha, but many disagreements remain, said Xie Zhenhua, head of the China delegation and the country's top climate official.

After the UK pledged to increase funds to help developing economies fight climate change, several other countries, including Germany and Denmark, made new commitments for a climate fund.

Funding has been a central issue in the past few days because it holds the key to many other crucial issues. A growing number of developed countries have given pledges on funding, opening the way for issues such as adapting policies for developing countries, technology transfer and funding transparency to be settled.

"At one stage, many options were on the table in the negotiations, but with perseverance from the delegates the number of options has been whittled down, and that represents progress," Xie said.

However, he stressed that many disagreements needed to be resolved at chief-negotiator and ministerial levels.

Issues include mitigation goals for countries that will join the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding treaty under which industrialized countries are asked to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Another is how to gauge whether developed countries outside the treaty or its second commitment period have adopted comparable emissions reduction targets.

Xie said he had consulted ministers from the European Union, the United States, Australia, African groups, island country groups, least developed countries and other developing countries such as Russia. "We have exchanged views on issues on which we have not reached agreement."

He said he hoped countries would remain flexible and open on unresolved issues.

"Perhaps the outcome will not delight everyone but will be acceptable to everyone. That's the best result we can get in a multilateral mechanism, and we are working very hard to that end."

Xie said the result of the summit in Durban last year was that all parties ensure there would be a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, there would be financial arrangements, and a process to prepare for what happens after 2020 that would include all countries and be legally binding.

"We hope this year in Doha we can also achieve balanced outcomes. No one wants to see the meeting fail. We are working together to protect a global climate system, and we want to make the appropriate contribution to that.

"In this big picture, different countries will have different interests, and that is understandable. But in such a big picture we can seek common ground, which is something we can achieve."

In an opening address on Dec 4, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said the conference needed to bring about a change in what was being done to adapt to global climate change and mitigate its effects, and to chart a course for coming years.

"Doha needs to ensure that there is agreement on an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, a clear path forward on climate finance a firm foundation laid for a long-term framework that is applicable to all, equitably instituted and responsive to science."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on nations to show political will, because the scope for avoiding dangerous warming was shrinking.

Countries have agreed to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 C above pre-industrial levels.

"It is not too late, but our actions need to match the scale of the change," Ban said. "This is technically possible and it is financially viable. What is needed is the political will."

Xie said China will make the appropriate contribution in tackling climate change, and the recently enunciated goal of building "a beautiful China" provided a political guarantee that the country's emissions-cutting target for 2020 would be met.

China's carbon intensity, the amount of carbon emitted for each unit of GDP, is likely to drop by 5 percent this year, Xie said.

There was also a marked fall in energy intensity - energy consumption for each unit of GDP - which dropped 3.4 percent from January to September, he said.

Both figures indicate that China is likely to fulfill its goal, after failing to do so last year. From 2011 to 2015 the country plans to cut its energy intensity by 16 percent and carbon intensity by 17 percent from 2010 levels.

The country's leaders have pledged that political, social and cultural progress will take full account of the environment and that sustainable development will be pursued through a low-carbon economy.

"If we go for those goals and follow that path, we will be able to make progress on the environment and inject new vitality into China's efforts in addressing climate change," Xie said. "We have already provided a political guarantee of our efforts."

China invested more than 1 trillion yuan ($161 billion; 123 billion euros) to fulfill its target for energy conservation and emissions reductions between 2006 and 2010. More than double that will be invested for the period 2011-15, Xie said.

Ban said China, as the second-largest economy, was making great efforts to tackle climate change.

"Even without this globally binding treaty, the Chinese government has been investing a lot in a smart way to diversify their sources of energy, and to mitigate and adapt by their own national governmental policies," Ban told a news conference in Doha.

"This is highly commendable I hope countries like China can continue to invest in a smart way."

Figueres called on China to further rebalance its economy and play a leading role in a "clean-energy revolution", by looking to clean energy instead of heavily relying on fossil fuels.

If China ramped up its clean-energy policies and used pioneering technology from new energy systems, it will achieve extraordinary success, she said.

Contact the writers at wuwencong@chinadaily.com.cn and lanlan@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 12/07/2012 page3)

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