China and the United States, the world’s largest producers of greenhouse gases, welcomed a historic climate change agreement signed in Paris Saturday while acknowledging its imperfections.
Beijing called it a huge step toward greener growth that safeguards its sovereignty but it said it falls short on funding for cleaner energy.
Xie Zhenhua, Beijing’s senior climate change envoy, said he welcomed the “flawed” agreement, echoing US President Barack Obama, Reuters reports.
On Saturday, the global climate summit in Paris produced a landmark accord that set the course for an historic transformation of the world’s fossil fuel-driven economy within decades in a bid to arrest global warming.
Obama said the agreement is not perfect but sets a framework that will contain periodic reviews and assessments to ensure that countries meet their commitments to curb carbon emissions.
Xie told reporters there are “parts of it that need to be improved. But this doesn’t affect the fact that history has taken a huge step forward, and so we are satisfied.”
Throughout the negotiations, Chinese delegates repeated the mantra of “differentiation, transparency and ambition” as the key interlocking elements of any deal, and also sought to ensure that China’s sovereignty remained intact.
China, in the midst of a painful economic restructuring program that has slowed growth, sought to maintain as much policy flexibility at home as it could, particularly on the thorny issue of five-year reviews, arguing that any adjustments to its 2020-2030 climate goals should be voluntary.
Beijing helped secure an exception to the five-year review with a multi-track system that said “developing countries shall be provided flexibility” and could make the reviews optional, though Chinese officials said they were still assessing the details.
Details such as how national emissions-reduction efforts will be measured and verified, another issue that put the United States and China at odds, are yet to be worked out.
On financing, regarded as a crucial factor, China was less pleased as the deal in its view did little to meet and extend a previous pledge for the industrialised world to provide at least US$100 billion a year to poorer nations by 2020.
Obama took credit for the successful negotiations.
“Today, the American people can be proud — because this historic agreement is a tribute to American leadership. Over the past seven years, we’ve transformed the United States into the global leader in fighting climate change.”
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