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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid