China: Climate talks yielded ‘positive’ results
Associated Press Writer
BEIJING (AP) – China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, lauded Sunday the outcome of a historic U.N. climate conference that ended with a nonbinding agreement that urges major polluters to make deeper emissions cuts – but does not require it.
The international climate talks that brought more than 110 leaders together in Copenhagen produced “significant and positive” results, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said.
Disputes between rich and poor countries and between the world’s biggest carbon polluters – China and the United States – dominated the two-week conference. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to demand action to cool an overheating planet.
The meeting ended Saturday after a 31-hour negotiating marathon, with delegates accepting a U.S.-brokered compromise. The so-called Copenhagen Accord gives billions of dollars in climate aid to poor nations but does not require the world’s major polluters to make deeper cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions.
Yang said the positive outcomes of the conference were that it upheld the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” recognized by the Kyoto Protocol, and made a step forward in promoting binding emissions cuts for developed countries and voluntary mitigating actions by developing countries.
“Developing and developed countries are very different in their historical emissions responsibilities and current emissions levels, and in their basic national characteristics and development stages,” Yang said in a statement. “Therefore, they should shoulder different responsibilities and obligations in fighting climate change.”
He said the conference also created a consensus on key issues such as long-term global emissions reduction targets, funding and technology support to developing countries, and transparency. He did not go into details.
“The Copenhagen conference is not a destination but a new beginning,” Yang said.
China has said it will rein in its greenhouse gas output, pledging to reduce its carbon intensity – its use of fossil fuels per unit of economic output – by 40 to 45 percent.
The Copenhagen Accord emerged principally from President Barack Obama’s meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and the leaders of India, Brazil and South Africa. But the agreement was protested by several nations that demanded deeper emissions cuts by the industrialized world.
Its key elements, with no legal obligation, were that richer nations will finance a $10 billion-a-year, three-year program to fund poorer nations’ projects to deal with drought and other impacts of climate change, and to develop clean energy.
A goal was also set to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 for the same adaptation and mitigation purposes.
In a U.S. concession to China and other developing nations, text was dropped from the declaration that would have set a goal of reducing global emissions by 50 percent by 2050. Developing nations thought that would hamper efforts to raise their people from poverty.