China: Defiant

Posted by Paul Chan

At 5 p.m. today, I went to the most interesting and revealing COP15 event thus far. It was a press briefing at the China Information and Communication Center. The briefing was given by Ambassador Yu Qingtai, Special Representative on climate change negotiation for the People’s Republic of China. Ambassador Yu answered questions from the press and spoke through an interpreter. From this briefing, I got a sense of the tension of the behind-close-door negotiations among country delegations.

Ambassador Yu made several important points. He first emphasized the “differential responsibility” between developed nations and developing nations in fulfilling climate change commitment. By that he meant because developed nations have had a history of high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to developing nations, they should bear most of the responsibility for climate change mitigation and adaptation. And it was unreasonable for developed nations to demand the same rate of GHG emission reduction from the developing nations.

Ambassador Yu pointed out that financing for climate change mitigation and adaptation for developing nations was one of the most challenging issues in the negotiation. Developed nations have promised financing in the U.N. Framework Convention for 17 years and have not lived up to their promises. Developed nations need to provide considerable amount of assistance to developing nations and need to go far beyond what has been committed thus far in sustainable and predictable ways. He pointed out as an example that the quick-start climate change fund has fallen far short of what is needed.

When asked what he expected developed nations to do, Ambassador Yu replied that he simply expected them to deliver what they have promised. Ambassador Yu said he regrets that the United States has the attitude that since the United States did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol (an amendment to the U.N. Framework Convention for Climate Change), it therefore is not bound by it. The Bali Action Plan (2008) stipulates that nations that do not meet the specified emission-reduction requirements in the current period should add the deficit to the following period. But in today’s closed-door negotiation, some developed nations that have not been meeting the emission-reduction requirements have basically asked other nations to accept this fact and move on. This was not well accepted by the developing nations.

COP15 has only three days left and no agreement has been formed yet. When asked what was motivating the delegations in these next three days, Ambassador Yu said that no delegates from any nations would want to deliver to their country leaders a document full of square brackets of [to be determined].

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One Response to China: Defiant

  1. It would be interesting to revisit this issue based on the outcome of COP15 and the basic agreement between the U.S. and China (along with Brazil, India and South Africa).

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