China Softens Stance Before Cancun

In Asia, Governments & Politics, News Headlines

China appeared Friday to soften its stance on a sticking point in UN climate change negotiations, the issue of verifying developing countries’ emissions reductions.

Beijing does not “believe that increasing transparency will be a problem,” at global talks opening later this month in Mexico, said Huang Huikang, the Chinese foreign ministry’s representative at the talks.

“This is a strong signal,” Huang told reporters. “In the past few months we have never expressed so publicly that, in principle, we do not see this as an issue.”

China and the United States, the world’s two biggest sources of greenhouse gases, have been at odds over how to rein in such emissions, casting a shadow over the talks in Cancun set from November 29 to December 10.

The meeting is the latest round of negotiations in a long effort under the United Nations to forge a global climate change treaty.

Huang in his up-beat comments said that “emissions reductions achieved by developing countries with technical and financial support from developed countries can be measurable, reportable and verifiable.”

The United States has asked China to commit to curbing its carbon emissions and wants developing countries to agree to more transparency and scrutiny of their claims on emissions reductions and other climate efforts.

China in turn has accused Washington of using the transparency issue to divert attention from its failure to pass laws to reduce domestic emissions.

It was not immediately clear how China’s apparent new flexibility would affect the transparency of its own efforts to fight climate change.

China has set a 2020 target of reducing carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product — or carbon intensity — by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels. That amounts to a vow of energy efficiency, but emissions will continue to soar.

However, China has so far strongly resisted the suggestion that it should allow outside verification of whether it is achieving its climate goals.

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