Nearing Cancún: Chinese news round-up

In the run up to UN-led climate-change talks in Mexico next week, China’s official news agency, Xinhua, has been reporting the country’s stance on the negotiations. Here is a summary of its coverage:

Positive meetings at Tianjin in October and Mexico in November have generated optimism regarding negotiations at Cancún. Yet serious sticking points remain and it seems unlikely that a legally binding agreement can be settled. Nevertheless, there appears to be a widespread feeling, in China and internationally, that concrete results could be achieved in areas such as adaptation, technological transfer, forest protection and short and long-term funding mechanisms.

In preparation, the Chinese government has stressed four key points they will adhere to in the upcoming negotiations. First, they say that they stand fully behind previous agreements such as the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Agreement and the Copenhagen Accord. They have stated that talks “should not move away from the ‘Bali Roadmap’ regardless of the results of Cancún”. Second, they hope that developed and developing countries can take up their own climate-change responsibilities and obligations under a principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”. Third, they insist on the principle of sustainable development and, fourth, on coordination and parallel progress in issues regarding mitigation, adaptation, funding and technology.

A November 23 report by the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission, covered by Xinhua, states that China holds an optimistic and open attitude to the more controversial questions regarding mitigation and transparency. This could be a positive sign for negotiations. However, Robert Orr, UN assistant secretary-general for policy coordination and strategic planning, announced on 22 November that he believes certain difficult issues will exist for a long time, and he cannot imagine they will be completely solved at this meeting. Countries should actively seek to move the negotiations forwards. Yet they must also continue their own efforts in solving these questions, even if negotiations cannot achieve expected results, it says.

The same report outlines Chinese policies and actions against climate change so far. It states that the country has tried hard to mitigate climate change, insisted on saving energy and enhancing efficiency, developed low carbon energy sources, increased forest carbon sequestration, started low-carbon province and city test points and built low carbon production systems and consumption models. The report also discusses prospects for the upcoming 12th five year plan. Where the 11th five year plan focused largely on administrative strategies, the 12th will concentrate on market strategies. To achieve commitments to reduce carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020, it will address the question of breaking down the overall target into more specific, relevant and effective combinations of policies.