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China’s key role in climate deal

Lan Lan
Updated: Dec 7,2015 7:10 AM     China Daily

China will continue to play a bridging role between developing and developed countries during the ongoing climate talks in Paris, according to the country’s top climate negotiator.

This role will enable it to seek so-called landing zones for the thorniest issues under a multilateral approach, the negotiator said.

Delegations from 196 countries agreed on a 48-page draft text in Paris on Dec 5-a more succinct version compared with the first one of nearly 100 pages reached early this year in Geneva, Switzerland, according to negotiators.

The two-week climate conference is scheduled to enter a higher level from Dec 7 as ministers start to review sensitive differences and narrow down options for the final draft.

Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate change and head of the Chinese delegation to Paris, said the country is in a position to play a bridging role in reflecting the opinions of developing countries to developed nations as a member of the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) countries and the G77 plus China.

The Group of 77 at the United Nations is a loose coalition of developing countries.

Observers said the new draft is a shorter and clearer version, but sticking points remain, including on financing and transparency.

China’s chief climate negotiator Su Wei said of the upcoming negotiations: “The toughest work ahead is to prepare a table of French cuisine catering for the tastes of all parties, with the raw ingredients in place.

“It’s obvious to all that China has been playing an active and constructive role during the first week of the Paris climate talks, which was rather tough.”

A host of joint announcements made by China and countries including the United States, France, Brazil and India said attempts had been made to find “landing zones” to solve major differences in the negotiations.

Xie said: “The Chinese delegation will continue to play a constructive role and try to coordinate with all the parties. We are confident of a successful outcome.

“But I must emphasize that the negotiations should still follow the multilateral principles, and the final goal and a consensus should be reached through an open, transparent and inclusive approach.”

The new draft is a package consisting of a legally binding agreement and nonbinding decisions.

Many differences remain over the text. For example, one issue is the five-year time frame for a “stocktaking approach” to assess national commitments to combating climate change.

Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute, said the new draft has clearer options and indicates more common ground. “Although there is plenty of hard work ahead, the table is now set for ministers to get this done.”

Observers said all the hard decisions have still to be made and they are hoping that negotiators can avoid diluting the text into weaker language.

Li Shuo, senior climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace East Asia, said the talks have reached a “crunch time” and negotiators should pursue “enhanced ambitions”.

Carbon market set to start in 2017

China is set to put its national carbon market into operation in 2017 through working with the European Union, the country’s top climate change envoy said at the weekend.

Xie Zhenhua said, “In carbon trade, the EU is the teacher and China is a student.”

China’s special representative on climate change to the ongoing UN climate conference in Paris was speaking on the sidelines of an event on Dec 5 organized by the EU and attended by EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete.

Xie said earlier that China’s carbon emissions will peak by 2030, if not earlier.

Since March last year, the EU has helped China to train more than 1,000 carbon market executives and operators in nearly 20 cooperation programs, Xie said.

In 2011, China started a pilot carbon trading project in seven provinces and cities-Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangdong, Shenzhen and Hubei-and has seen encouraging initial benefits in controlling emissions, Xie said.

In December last year, the National Development and Reform Commission, which coordinates China’s economic policies at operational level, issued a provisional methodology covering transactions in carbon emission rights.

Xie said that China, as the biggest developing country, still faces special challenges in its attempts to establish a nationwide carbon market, but the nation is determined to succeed.

The EU emissions trading system, launched in 2005, forms the cornerstone of the bloc’s policy to combat climate change and is instrumental in reducing industrial greenhouse gas emissions in Europe in a cost-effective way.

It covers more than 11,000 power stations and industrial plants in 31 countries.

Canete said: “With both the EU and China committed to emissions trading, the two major international players are championing carbon markets as a key policy tool to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is a strong signal that is needed crucially by companies and stakeholders. I am confident it will encourage others to follow suit.”

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