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Substantial climate deal sought after
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-26 07:05

Chinese negotiators have started a new round of campaigning in their battle to secure a meaningful climate change deal at the upcoming Copenhagen summit.

The nation's top climate change negotiators said Beijing will not accept an empty political declaration at the summit next month. Instead, the country will settle for nothing less than a global deal with "substantial content".

Yu Qingtai, China's climate ambassador, said any deal should lock in achievements already made during the two years of negotiations that have already taken place in the run-up to the Copenhagen conference.

Following Yu's lead, China's climate change special envoy, Xie Zhenhua, and Su Wei, climate change department director with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), both plan to hold press conferences this week on the issue.

Yu said the international community has agreed that rich countries should set a significant target for carbon emissions reduction, and he said nations have already decided that an effective mechanism should be formed to transfer capital and technology to poorer countries.

Meanwhile, under agreements reached so far, developing countries should take proper steps to mitigate global warming after receiving aid and technical assistance.

"The consensus can enrich the deal," said Yu, who told China Daily his team had been burning the midnight oil prior to their departure for Copenhagen next week.

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However, Yu said China will not set a binding carbon reduction target at the summit, despite pressure from many countries for Beijing to accept such a goal.

It is not yet known who will lead the Chinese delegation at the summit, which will take place Dec 7-18 in the Danish capital. The UN has said more than 40 heads of state have indicated they will attend. The White House has said Barack Obama will also attend.

On Tuesday, Li Gao, a division director with the NDRC's climate change department, said China will "help bring about a meaningful result and try to make the summit successful".

"We hope the Copenhagen summit will become a milestone in mitigating global warming, and China has always been playing an active role in the process," said Li. "China will try everything possible to make the Copenhagen summit a success and will not end the summit with an empty political declaration."

But Li did not elaborate on what China might be able to do to make the meeting a success.

Yang Fuqiang, director of global climate change solutions at WWF, said the comments from the top negotiators show China will be pushing for a legally binding document that includes progress already made.

"For instance, Japan has pledged to lower the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels. Similarly other countries have also made some proposals," Yang said.

According to unnamed analysts, China may accept the latest proposal from rich countries on emissions targets, even though they fall short of the earlier suggestion that developed countries should cut carbon emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 from its 1990 baseline.

"China has demanded that the international community does not backtrack from what has been agreed," Yang said.

European countries were blamed for backing away from earlier commitments during the previous round of climate change talks in Bangkok. During those negotiations, Europe sided with the US in calling for a separate mechanism away from the Kyoto Protocol, according to Li Gao.

He added that China will try to coordinate its stance with the EU during the Sino-EU summit at the end of this month.

The document that will be drafted at the Copenhagen summit may also include mitigation plans from developing countries, Yang said.

Yu Qingtai said China's hopes before Copenhagen are uncomplicated.

"Our demand and expectation for the conference in Copenhagen is very simple. We hope everyone will do a good job in meeting the commitments that they have already made," Yu said. "As long as the countries fulfill their respective commitments and take due actions, based on the principal of common but differentiated responsibilities, the Copenhagen summit should be, and must be, successful."