New round of negotiations expected after Copenhagen
An employee of a heating oil supplier pulls a pipe to deliver oil to a home in the western German city of Harxheim on Wednesday. Due to low temperatures, Germany is expected to remain under a blanket of snow for the next few days. [AFP]
China's climate official yesterday confirmed that climate ministers from four emerging economies will meet in India this month, to help chart a roadmap toward a legally binding global climate change agreement in Mexico City this year.
While the official downplayed the scheduled conference on Jan 24-25 as an "ordinary event" among China's international climate engagements, the government's top-ranking advisors said the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) are likely to coordinate their follow-up actions required in the Copenhagen Accord achieved by 190 economies in December.
China will send a delegation headed by a minister to attend the meeting, which is aimed at a successful UN-scheduled Mexico climate change conference, said Li Gao, division director with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
As an official in charge of international cooperation in the commission's department of combating climate change, Li said China has been playing an active role in seeking climate cooperation, without elaborating on the conference.
Li also did not name the head of the delegation. The government's climate change envoy, Xie Zhenhua, who is also the NDRC's vice-minister, is expected to attend the conference.
The next annual UN Climate Change Conference will take place toward the end of 2010 in Mexico's capital and is preceded by a major two-week negotiating session in Bonn, Germany, scheduled from May 31 to June 11.
He Jiankun, vice-president of the government-sponsored Expert Panel on Combating Climate Change, said the upcoming conference is expected to activate a new round of global climate change negotiations after Western countries blamed China for "hijacking" or "blocking" the process.
"The upcoming conference has shown that the emerging economies, such as my country, are determined to move the negotiation agenda forward, instead of blocking or hijacking the efforts to combat global warming," said He, who sat on the Chinese government's advisory body in Copenhagen last month.
He expected the ministers of the four countries to discuss approaches on submitting their carbon emission cut pledges before the end of the month, which was agreed upon by the majority of countries at the Copenhagen summit.
According to the Copenhagen Accord, the industrialized countries will commit to implement, individually or jointly, quantified economy-wide emissions targets from 2020, to be listed in the accord before Jan 31.
The developing countries agreed to communicate their efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions every two years, also listing their voluntary pledges before the end of the month.
But the Copenhagen Accord did not specify how the pledges would be submitted and the four countries may do so in detail this time, He said.
China has agreed to cut intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent by 2020 from 2005 base and Premier Wen Jiabao promised that the country will uphold the commitment regardless of results from Copenhagen.
Reuters said China and India are taking the lead in organizing the upcoming gathering. To better prepare for the Copenhagen summit, China had invited climate change ministers of the other three countries shortly before December's highly expected UN gathering to meet in Beijing. They arrived in Copenhagen with a draft with a common understanding on combating global warming, while a number of developed countries were blocking the Copenhagen negotiations.
During the meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Copenhagen, Wen said "the BASIC countries and other developing nations need to stay unified and step up coordination on stances at the climate negotiations".
Wen said Singh is a personal friend and that thei r friendship also helps strengthen ties between China and India.
"India attaches great importance to the strategic partnership between the two countries," said Singh, adding that the Sino-Indian partnership has been expanded during the G20 meetings, World Trade Organization meetings as well as other negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
"If China has achieved common understanding with the other three (emerging economies), it can easily coordinate with other developing countries," He said.
Dennis Pamlin, a Sweden-based visiting scholar with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the BASIC countries mechanism should go beyond the meeting among the climate change and environmental ministers.
They should coordinate the basic understanding, which is that of common but differentiated responsibility.
They will only start discussing commitments for reductions in relation to collaboration agreements when technology and smart trade is included, Pamlin said.
Pamlin said there are other key areas where the BASIC countries could take the lead in solutions for low carbon urban development, because the emerging countries have cities that grow fast and will be locked into a high carbon society if the right investments are not made.
Engagement with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society are also essential. Pamlin said the West is communicating better with NGOs, which are influential voices in the developed world and can help developing countries get "a much better deal".