China in Copenhagen: blog update

Guest post by Cameron Walz

Scott Moore, guest blogger for The Green Leap Forward, discusses China’s climate-change policy – and the unexpected relevance of Frank Sinatra: 

“China’s leadership has decided, therefore, that it must move up the socio-economic value chain, and quickly. Traditional heavy industry, and the highly-polluting, resource-intensive model of development which sustains it, will be replaced by a vision of nimble green enterprises, poised to lead China into the world’s economic future. At Copenhagen, China’s leaders make no secret of this ambition: they speak of building an energy system which is less polluting, more secure, and more efficient, and of an “innovative” development pattern that is higher-quality and lower-emitting.

But this, larger story seems lost on most of the delegates at Copenhagen, and on commentators beyond. Instead, coverage of China’s climate policies, including its recently-announced pledge to decrease the carbon intensity of every unit of production, is        dominated by debates over their rigor. These are by no means trivial questions, but they risk masking the larger issue: what does China’s proposed  transformation, from low-cost workshop of the world to high-tech laboratory, mean in terms of the country’s overall development?

The first, most obvious implication, is that China’s green transformation will be very much on its own terms (Recall Sintra: “I did it myyyyy wayyyy”).”

Read the whole post here. Also at The Green Leap Forward, Angel Hsu and Luke Bassett describe film star Jet Li’s cameo at Copenhagen:

“[T]he Bella Center is becoming celebrity central: today a member of Team China spotted Jet Li, who filled in for Climate Change Minister Xie Zhenhua at a side event off-site called “China’s pathway to a low carbon economy and society” (Minister Xie and Jet Li = perfect substitutes?). Li charged the audience to think globally, emphasizing that he is ‘100 percent made in China but a citizen of the world.’

Read the rest of their detailed roundup – including crucial discussions on MRV and developing countries — here

Meanwhile, Climate Progress looks at how US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s announcement that the United States will contribute US$100 billion annually to developing countries shapes the playing field:

The deal that could come out of Copenhagen was never going to please everyone, particularly because America’s hands are tied, unable  to commit to deeper 2020 reductions than Congress is likely to approve, an uber-modest 17% cut from 2005 levels.  At the same time, you can’t get to the 2°C ( 3.6°F) target for total warming unless China in particular agrees to peak in total emissions in the 2020-2025 time frame and then start reducing emissions after that — a commitment that goes far beyond their uber-modest carbon goal of cutting carbon intensity 40% to 45% by 2020.

So the bottom line question is — Will the major players accept 3/4 of a loaf now, with an understanding that climate commitments will need to be strengthened in the future accords, just as the world did in its ultimately successful effort to save the ozone layer.

China has emerged in the last 24 hours as the spoiler, the bad COP.”

Read the full blog post here.