UN climate talks re-start as China calls for 40% cut in OECD emissions

Chinese submission fails to reflect the decisive domestic action it needs to cut use of fossil fuels, argues Greenpeace

China has re-iterated its call for rich countries to make significant reductions in their emissions, calling for the US and others to cut greenhouse-gas pollution by 40%.

The call was made as part of China’s official submission to the UN about how it envisions a climate deal being made by 2015.

The submission says developed countries – which include the US and EU – had failed adequately to reduce their emissions and needed to do so before an agreement could be reached on cuts by less developed countries, including China.

Starting with a conference in Bonn this week, UN negotiators will meet over the next two years to try to forge agreement between countries on cutting emissions and tackling climate change ahead of a UN summit in Paris in December 2015.

China’s submission follows the latest scientific update, released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last year, which said climate change was unequivocal and definitely due to human activities, and that the world was currently on a pathway to average temperature rises of more than 2C.

Climate campaigner Li Shuo said China’s submission was disappointing.

"A more forward-looking proposal may not only help China explain itself better to the international community but also be appreciated by the wide spectrum of global audience," said Li Shuo, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace China.

Li Shuo said China needed more decisive domestic action.

"With the post-2020 climate targets under preparation and severe ‘airpocalypse’ presenting opportunity to pursue a lower carbon pathway, this gap between China’s domestic action and its international responsibility needs to be bridged urgently. This will require even more decisive domestic efforts and robust international climate ambition in the remaining one and a half years before Paris."

Other observers suggested the submission indicated the difficulties negotiators will have in trying to forge a deal by the end of 2015.

“This is not an environmental agreement. It’s one of the largest most ambitious economic arrangements for the world and for the next century. This is by far the most important process the world will face in this century and the next,” Venezuela’s lead envoy Claudia Salerno told the climate news website RTCC.

Jennifer Morgan, a climate expert at the World Resources Institute think-tank, told the news agency Reuters that the Chinese submission showed that few nations were yet willing to compromise in talks meant to end with a global UN deal at a summit in Paris in late 2015.