UN climate chief urges Chinese flexibility

October 4, 2010 12:00 am

, TIANJIN, Oct 4 – China should show more flexibility in global negotiations on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, the UN climate chief said Monday, although she praised the Asian nation for helping lead the talks.

"It is absolutely indispensable that China show leadership, accompanied by all other countries, to be flexible in order to be able to reach the compromises that are necessary before Cancun," Christiana Figueres said.

The head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change spoke on the opening day of talks hosted by China that are aimed at paving the way for agreements at a UN climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, starting on November 29.

The six days of talks in the northern port city of Tianjin are part of long-running efforts through the United Nations to secure a post-2012 treaty to limit global warming and avoid potential environmental catastrophes.

China is now the world\’s largest source of greenhouse gases and its emissions continue to increase as its economy expands at near double-digit pace.

It pledged last year to slow the growth in those emissions by reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

That is essentially a vow of greater energy efficiency that would likely, however, see emissions continue to increase.

China\’s top climate change official Xie Zhenhua appeared to reject suggestions that Beijing be more flexible on key issues such as emissions cuts and allowing outside verification of Chinese progress toward its targets.

"We must note that it (verification)… must not interfere with a developing country\’s sovereignty," Xie said.

China has long opposed any outside verification of its green progress in the name of national sovereignty.

It has also resisted pressure to commit to emissions reduction targets through the UN, arguing that doing so would hurt its economic development.

Dai Bingguo, China\’s top foreign policy official, called for a spirit of cooperation but also indicated China would hold firm on some of the key disputes with the United States and other developed countries.

In a speech to the delegates, Dai reiterated China\’s stance that developed nations should take the lead in emission cuts and help developing countries deal with the impact of climate change.

Despite urging China to show more flexibility, Figueres called the country\’s efficiency goal an "impressive target" and praised Beijing for its "extraordinary leadership" in volunteering to host the Tianjin gathering.

"We are very appreciative of their efforts and we take it as a very symbolic act from China in support of the intergovernmental process," she said.

Little progress in the climate change negotiations has been made since world leaders failed to broker a binding deal in Copenhagen last year.

After being blamed by many in the developed world for derailing the Copenhagen talks, China insisted it wanted to foster a spirit of cooperation at this week\’s conference.

"As the host country, China is hoping that we can contribute positively to advancing the climate change negotiation process," Xie said.


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