China: Climate focus should be on Paris deal

Updated: 2014-12-12 23:41

By LAN LAN in Lima, Peru(China Daily USA)

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Countries at Lima talks clash over call for review of emissions cut pledges

China's top climate negotiators in Lima, Peru, said that China is not against an assessment of countries' commitment to climate mitigation - known as intended national determined contributions - but assessment should not be carried out until after next year's summit in Paris.

"Countries should concentrate all their efforts on ensuring the successful signing of an agreement in Paris," said Xie Zhenhua, head of the Chinese delegation to the United Nations climate change talks in Lima.

A contentious issue that hangs over the meeting is whether national pledges should be reviewed next year. The United States and Europe have said that's important for encouraging countries to set ambitious goals for cutting emissions.

A progress review next year has been opposed by China, India and most developing countries.

"Our purpose is to ensure a successful Paris agreement," said Xie, adding that he agrees the contributions should be assessed in an open and transparent way, but such time-consuming work should be carried out after the Paris conference, which is set to begin at the end of November.

"China has made a lot of efforts in coping with climate change, and we're not afraid of the review, but we must ensure a successful Paris conference - that's our attitude," Xie said in a meeting with representatives of NGOs and the press on Thursday in Lima.

Xie said countries would be able to put more focus on assessment after reaching a global deal.

"If there is a gap between the INDCs and the 2-degree Celsius target, I would suggest that parties enhance their actions before 2020," Xie said.

The INDCs should include all elements, including mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and transparency, Xie said, adding that the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility and respective capability should be reflected in the new agreement.

Most developing countries hold similar views. An early progress review has been strongly opposed by India.

"We do not see any role for any ex-ante review in this process," Indian environment and climate change minister Prakash Javadekar was quoted by the Times of India as saying, referring to review in advance.

Martin Khor, executive director of the South Center, said "there should be a balance and fairness". If mitigation pledges are to be assessed, then pledges by each developed country on financial support for developing countries for the post-2020 period should also be assessed, he said, because most developing countries will be relying significantly on external financing for their climate actions - especially the poorer ones.

"The 2015 agreement should not focus on only one dimension, mitigation, but equally on adaptation, finance and technology. And this should be balanced fairly," Khor said. "Assessment when carried out should be on all these factors."

Progress remains slow at the two-week United Nations climate change talks currently underway in Lima. Closure of the meeting is likely to be postponed to Saturday morning.

Yang Fuqiang, senior adviser to the Natural Resources Defense Council, said bottlenecks in Lima create worries for Paris next year. Some core concerns of the developing countries may not be reflected well, Yang said.

Developing countries have stressed that the developed countries should enhance their pledged mitigation goals in the Kyoto Protocol before 2020. Those that are not part of the protocol should make a comparable effort, Yang said, but little progress has been made at the conference.

"Some developed countries are very enthusiastic in talking about actions after 2050 or 2020, but they become very quiet when talking about actions before 2020," Xie said. "We wish the commitments to be honored. Then people can be confident about the years beyond 2020."