Climate deal falls short

08:29, December 21, 2009      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

China welcomed the outcome of a historical UN climate summit Sunday, a day after a nonbinding deal reached in Copenhagen was attacked for falling short on concrete steps against global warming.

Environment observers warned that any operational agreement in the future would require ac-tions from the US, which was blamed by Greenpeace for failing to "take any real leadership and dragging the talks down."

In a statement on the foreign ministry's website, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi outlined the "positive results" of the two-week conference: successfully maintaining the principle of "common but differentiated responsibility," which took a step forward with regards to developed countries' mandatory emissions cuts and developing nations' voluntary mitigation actions, and a broad consensus on long-term global targets, funding, technology support to developing countries, and transparency.

Yang didn't specifically mention the "Copenhagen Accord" reached Saturday, which set a goal of "jointly mobilizing" the $100 billion-a-year climate aid for developing nations by 2020 but does not pin down industrialized countries to targets.

The UN climate conference agreed to "take note of" the accord, brokered by several countries including the US and China. The deal was not formally adopted by all na-tions due to opposition by a handful of developing nations, which said it ignored the real needs of the poor.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang Monday hit out at critics of the closed nature of the accord, saying Beijing had always maintained close contact and coordination with all countries during the summit.
The deal, however, lacked many elements environmentalists considered crucial, including firm targets for mid- or long-term reductions of greenhouse-gas emissions and a deadline for concluding a binding treaty next year.

Greenpeace commented on Saturday, "The blame for failure mostly lies with the rich industrialized world, countries which have the largest historic responsibility for causing the problem. In particular, the US failed to take any real leadership and dragged the talks down."

Obama, rescheduled for the climax of proceedings, came just to reiterate what is in the draft legislation on climate change prepared by Congress. Maybe that's why he invited laughter from the reporters present when he said in his speech, "I come here today not to talk, but to act."

"Some even saw the US president as an active obstacle to a real agreement – alienating the Chinese with a demand for inspections," London's Daily Telegraph wrote Monday. "For all the efforts of Obama's people to present him as key to a deal, his reputation suffered in Copenhagen – along with many other totems of idealism."

Pang Jun, a scholar at the School of Environment and Natural Resources at the Renmin University of China, noted that China has made a reasonable compromise by accepting a provision requiring developing countries to report every two years on their voluntary actions, subject to "international consultations and analysis."

"However, without explicit commitments of financial assistance and technological transfers from rich nations, the developing world would find it unreasonable to accept external monitoring and verification of their greenhouse-gas emissions efforts," Pang added.

Pang conceded that a promise of $30 billion over the next three years in climate aid from rich to poor countries, with shares taken by the EU, Japan and the United Staes, was a real achievement.

Talks go on, but can climate wait?

The next planned UN climate meeting is a regular half-yearly session among officials in Bonn, from May 31 to June 11, before another round of annual UN climate talks scheduled for November 2010 in Mexico, where negotiators are hoping to nail down a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
【1】 【2】

  • Do you have anything to say?
Special Coverage
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • Fireworks display marks 10th anniversary of Macao SAR
  • Water knows the answers
  • Philippines says major volcano eruption within days
  • China's third escort mission returns home from Somali waters
  • Russia launches manned spacecraft to ISS
Most Popular
Hot Forum Dicussion