China says countries to focus on reducing differences at climate talks next week

By Tini Tran, AP
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

China says climate talks to focus on differences

BEIJING — China’s top climate change official said Wednesday that countries have little expectation of reaching a binding climate treaty this year but instead will focus on narrowing their differences ahead of the year-end summit in Cancun.

Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission and China’s lead climate official, said China aims to bring countries closer together when it hosts a weeklong U.N. climate meeting in the port city of Tianjin, the last formal negotiations ahead of the major meeting in Mexico at the end of November.

“We aim to reduce the divergence as much as possible and try to achieve positive progress so as to contribute to the progress of the Cancun conference,” he said during a news conference about the Tianjin meeting, which runs Oct 4-9. “We hope all parties demonstrate an active and positive political will and, more importantly, translate political will into concrete actions.”

Last year’s U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen disappointed many environmentalists and political leaders when it failed to produce a global and legally binding treaty on curbing the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Instead, nations agreed to a nonbinding political declaration on fighting climate change.

Expectations for this year have been downsized as it has become obvious that countries remain deadlocked on the same issues that scuttled last year’s conference.

Given the limited time that remains, Xie said the realistic option is to work toward reaching agreement on as many areas as possible, but understand that the Mexico meeting won’t produce a final document.

“It seems the Cancun conference is only part of the process of climate change negotiation. After the conference, we will continue to press ahead and try to reach a binding agreement at the South African conference next year,” he said.

Xie said he hoped developed countries will “do more and do better in taking the lead in substantially reducing energy and pollutants while providing financial and technological transfer to help developing countries to increase their capacity to tackle climate change.”

In turn, he said the developing nations, including major polluters like China “will do our best to increase the transparency of our measures in terms of tackling climate change and integrate our measures into global efforts.”

Xie said it remains essential that China and the United States, as the world’s leading carbon emitters, be fully engaged in the negotiating process. The two countries account for 40 percent of the world’s total emission of greenhouse gases, which have been blamed for global warming.

Last year, China pledged it would cut its carbon intensity — emissions per unit of GDP — by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from the 2005 level. Nationwide efforts have also been made to reach the goal of improving energy efficiency by 20 percent from 2005 to 2010. It has also phased out hundreds of heavily polluting factories and is moving to restructure its economy

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