Date
24 September 2017
China has been careful not to overcommit itself to climate change targets despite a recent deal with the US on carbon emission curbs.  Photo: Reuters
China has been careful not to overcommit itself to climate change targets despite a recent deal with the US on carbon emission curbs. Photo: Reuters

China sees US Republican hard line in climate talks

Chinese climate change negotiators are wary about opposition from United States Republicans that could torpedo a deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

They made the warning ahead of talks which begin next week in the Peruvian capital Lima, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Chinese leader Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama unveiled an estimate that Chinese emissions would stop growing around 2030 alongside US targets.

Republican politicians immediately came out against the Obama administration’s pledge.

“Because of internal politics in the US the Kyoto protocol was not ratified, so we are worried that we might face the same problem in the 2015 pact,” Xie Zhenhua, vice director of the national planning agency and the chief negotiator on climate change, told reporters on Tuesday.

The Lima negotiations will be followed by a round in Paris next year where a global climate agreement could be sealed.

China’s leaders have been careful to avoid over-committing themselves ahead of any international climate accord this time around after previous attempts by former premier Wen Jiabao during 2009 negotiations in Copenhagen were seen as a failure of Chinese diplomacy.

Wen’s failure to negotiate directly in the final hours of the Copenhagen talks highlighted his inability to commit on behalf of a political system based on consensus among powerful interest groups.

“There is a feeling that the announcement by Xi Jinping and Mr. Obama changed the picture,” said Frederic Mion, president of French university SciencesPo which is helping organise the Paris summit.

“The Chinese are now much more willing, less obstructive than we could have believed six months ago.”

This time around Chinese advisers and industry groups have built careful models for when carbon emissions would peak, based on projections of slowing economic growth, an expected shift towards a more service-oriented economy, and a smaller share for coal in the nation’s energy mix, the report said.

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