News / Asia

China Seeks Legally Binding Climate Pact

Vice-director of the National Development and Reform Commission and head of the Chinese delegation Xie Zhenhua speaks during a news conference at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Durb
Vice-director of the National Development and Reform Commission and head of the Chinese delegation Xie Zhenhua speaks during a news conference at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Durb

The head of the Chinese delegation at U.N. climate talks in South Africa has signaled the country is willing to accept a legally binding agreement to cut emissions. While a deal would not come until after 2020, many at the conference hope China's move will influence other major polluters and developing nations.

The European Union has been urging other governments at the U.N. climate conference, known as COP17, to adopt legally binding mandates to cut carbon emissions blamed for global climate change.

The EU commissioner for climate change, Connie Hedegaard, said the European delegation would discuss the effort with the world's biggest polluter - China.

“China has always been in favor of a legally binding outcome, and that is the key question to China - that is - will a legally binding deal mean that China is also equally legally bound,” said Hedegaard.

The head of the Chinese delegation, Xie Zhenhua, answered this question by saying China would agree to a deal if certain preconditions were met.

They include that the European Union agree to a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, which requires nations to cut carbon emissions, and that the terms of a legal deal would differentiate based on each country's “national capability.”

Speaking through an interpreter, Xie also said governments should first fulfill the reduction pledges they made at the last two climate summits in Copenhagen and Cancun before considering a legally binding deal, no sooner than 2020.

As the Chinese delegation briefed reporters on the ground floor of Durban's International Conference Center, upstairs, the leaders of civil society groups led a news conference outlining their complaints about the U.S. position at the talks.

The United States, which is the second-largest polluter behind China, is opposed to legally binding mandates to cut emissions, and has said the current emission reduction targets do not need to be reconsidered until 2020.

Some members of the panel suggested that China's willingness to agree to a legal framework to cut emissions could help motivate other countries.

Kumi Naidoo is the executive director of Greenpeace International.

“I think that China and the U.S. need to actually have a conversation here on the ground and maybe, in fact, it's not a conversation that happens between negotiators, but maybe it's Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama talking at a senior level, because don't forget that the theater is not simply here of the struggle, it's happening in the capitals back home,” said Naidoo.

China and the United States have actually outlined similar policies here at COP17. They have both called on countries to meet targets set at the previous conference before discussing further action. China says it has set a target to cut emissions by 17 percent in the next five years, while the United States has committed to cut the same amount by 2020.

But the United States has been accused of holding up progress at the talks, while China's policy has been warmly welcomed.

Harjeet Singh, "climate justice coordinator" for the group ActionAid, says the difference is that compared to the United States, China has a much more ambitious climate policy.

“They have put some very strong stringent laws in place, they are making sure that their industries are much much less polluting," said Singh. "Look at the investments that they've made in green technology and all this is happening when China is not under any legally binding agreement, and it has done a lot on its own.”

Despite China's efforts, a new report from the Global Carbon Project, a group of scientists linked to Britain's University of East Anglia, says emerging economies, including China, have contributed to the biggest yearly increase in carbon emissions on record.

The report, published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, says carbon dioxide emissions rose by 5.9 percent worldwide in 2010, despite a brief dip in air pollution during the global financial crisis.

According to the report, China's emissions alone rose by 10.4 percent.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid