China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Saturday, December 10, 2005

China and developing world back Kyoto

By Fiona Harvey in MontrealFri Dec 9, 6:55 PM ET

US hopes of blocking the progress of the Kyoto treaty on climate change appeared to be fading on Friday night, amid signs that China and other developing countries were throwing their weight behind the agreement.

Washington looked increasingly isolated even as it edged reluctantly closer to a possible deal with other developed and developing countries to consider the future of the treaty.

In a last-minute intervention, Bill Clinton, the former US president, urged the US delegation to agree "actions" on climate change even if it could not sign up to emissions reduction targets.

China said that it saw the Kyoto process, under the aegis of the United Nations, as the main forum for progress on tackling greenhouse gas emissions. This was a blow to the US, which has been positioning its Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development as an alternative to the United Nations-brokered Kyoto treaty, which the US has rejected. The six-nation partnership, which will share low carbon technology, was announced this summer.

Su Wei, deputy director-general for treaty and law in the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs, told the Financial Times: "We see the [UN Framework Convention on Climate Change] as the only global forum for [action on] climate change."

In discussions with several countries, China signalled it expected the Kyoto process to result in much greater action on emissions than the US-led Asia-Pacific partnership.

China is crucial to any agreement on climate change because it is the world's second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and, as a developing country, has no obligation to reduce its emissions under the current provisions of the Kyoto protocol.

Both the US and the proponents of Kyoto have been assiduously wooing China in the past few months with promises of technology transfer and financial assistance.

Stavros Dimas, the European environment commissioner, said China had a strong interest in taking action on climate change and on air pollution from its factories and coal-fired power plants.

However, it was clear that China would exact a high price from the European Union and other proponents of the treaty in return for its support.

Mr Wei said: "As a developing country we lack the financial resources [to install technology to lower greenhouse gas emissions]. We hoped the EU would be more positive in the provision of financial resources [for a landmark technology demonstration project]."

Under the 1997 protocol, which did not come into force until earlier this year, developed countries must cut their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5 per cent compared with 1990 levels by 2012. But these provisions expire after that date and as yet there is no agreement on what should replace them.

Canada has proposed that talks on the future should begin next year, within an "open and non-binding exchange of views, information and ideas".

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