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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid