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UN climate conference faces 4 obstacles:Chinese official
2009/12/09

China hopes that the UN Climate Change Conference will be a starting point of a new round of global actions in fighting against climate change, said a senior Chinese official on Monday.

Xie Zhenhua, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, also expressed the hope that participants will make decisions in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol.

He told a press conference in Copenhagen after the opening plenary session of the UN climate conference that there are four serious obstacles facing negotiators from all over the world.

"First of all, developing countries insist on 'double-track' negotiations on the basis of the Convention, the Protocol and the Bali Roadmap. However, this is disputed by some developed countries which want to combine the two tracks by abolishing the Kyoto Protocol," Xie said.

Xie, also China's top representative to UN climate change negotiations, said "common but differentiated responsibility" will become hollow words if the Kyoto Protocol is repealed. "Therefore, there will be heated debate on this issue," he said.

During the opening session on Monday morning, many developing countries expressed their resolve to adhere to the double-track mechanism.

"Secondly, this conference should make decision on the target of mid-term(2012-2020) greenhouse gas emission reduction for developed countries. According to the Convention and the Protocol, developed countries should take the lead in reducing their emission significantly, but the question is: what exactly does the word 'significantly' mean?" said Xie.

Developing countries including China insist that this conference must determine the emission reduction target for developed countries in accordance with the requirements of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the suggestions of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Although IPCC scientists suggest that developed countries should reduce their emission between 25 percent to 40 percent in the mid-term in order to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, most developing countries are calling for setting the target at 40 percent.

The third obstacle, he said, is the assistance to developing countries by industrialized states in terms of finance and technology, which is part of the requirements of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

The problem is how much funds and what specific technologies are needed, and what kind of mechanism should be established to facilitate the process, said Xie.

Negotiations on this issue has been going on for years, but so far developed countries made no substantial commitments nor did they take practical action. This conference cannot end with hollow commitments of developed countries which cannot be fulfilled like its predecessors.

Xie said the final sticking point is that developed countries now want their developing counterparts to make emission reduction commitments or take actions which are "measurable, reportable and verifiable."

However, according to the Bali Roadmap, it is developed countries whose targets of emission reduction must be "measurable, reportable and verifiable" while developing countries' efforts towards sustainable development should be supported in a "measurable, reportable and verifiable" way in terms of technology, finance and capacity building.

"China's position on this issue is very clear -- the Bali Roadmap must be fully respected," said Xie. Therefore, it is not necessary for the voluntary emission reduction actions taken by developing countries to be "measurable, reportable and verifiable."

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