China Perspective

UN climate change talks open in Tianjin

Updated: 2010-10-04 13:56
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UN climate change talks open in Tianjin
China's State Councilor Dai Bingguo delivers a speech at the opening session of the meeting on Oct 4 in Tianjin. [Photo/Xinhua] 

TIANJIN - Negotiators at a new round of UN climate talks, opening in North China's Tianjin municipality on Monday, are expected to pave the way for "concrete outcomes" at the year-end Cancun summit in Mexico, though no legally binding agreement is expected.

"A concrete outcome in Cancun is urgently needed," said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), at a press conference after the opening session.

"If you want a tangible outcome in December, now is the time to clarify what could constitute an achievable and politically balanced package for Cancun."

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She urged the negotiators to accelerate the search for common ground and demonstrate "flexibility" and "a spirit of compromise" to reach a balanced outcome.

About 3,100 delegates from 177 parties under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol are attending the meeting on Oct 4-9.

They have two primary tasks. One is to narrow their differences and make a 70-page negotiating text under the UNFCCC "slimmer" to submit to the Cancun Conference scheduled for Nov 29-Dec 10 this year in Mexico.

Another task is to focus on a draft proposal and prepare a better document under the Kyoto Protocol for the Cancun Conference to facilitate agreement on more points under the Kyoto Protocol.

Three rounds of such talks have been held this year. The Tianjin gathering is the final meeting before the Cancun Conference and the first time that such a formal meeting of its kind has been convened in China.

However, there has been a broad agreement that countries would not pursue a legally binding agreement in Cancun, Figueres said.

"This year countries have realized that they can not build a tall building without putting in place the foundation for that building. Thus, the governments are focusing on the foundations of a regime."

They will identify what the "corner stones" for the foundations are and will be busy working for an agreement on each of the corner stones, she said.

At a Monday press conference, Artur Runge-Metzger, one of top negotiators of the Europe Union (EU), stressed a "filtering" of the 70-page negotiating text at the Tianjin meeting.

The EU would like to see negotiators reach a broad agreement at the Tianjin meeting on what issues can be achieved at Cancun and focus on these issues.

"What we can achieve in Cancun will only be a certain number of items that have already been in the negotiating text, which all the countries think can make sufficient progress to come to a decision," Metzger said. "As for the things not decided in Cancun, we will have to continue the negotiations."

The EU reaffirmed that it will contribute 2.4 billion euros annually from 2010 to 2012 as the bloc reiterated a quick capital injection was crucial for preparing for the implementation of the new climate change agreement.

"For the EU, multilateralism, within the UN framework, remains the core of finding global solutions for global perspective," said an EU statement distributed to the delegates.

Makase Nyaphisi, on behalf of the Least Developed Countries (LDC), said the need for adequate and accessible financial support has become more urgent in the face of continued adverse effects of climate change.

"It is not morally responsible to continue leaving the most vulnerable countries, particularly the LDCs, to overstretch their limited national resources towards addressing climate change related disasters at the expense of their social and economic developments," he said.

"We are looking forward to negotiations that would lead to creation of a new fund that will streamline the various funding sources and needs under the Convention", he said.

Negotiations on several key issues had not progressed as yet, including the future of Kyoto Protocol and the pledges put forward by the parties to slow down the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, Figueres said.

She cited the idea of "seeking commonalities while putting aside differences" raised by former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in 1955, saying that it is as pertinent now as it was then.

China's part

At the opening session, China's State Councilor Dai Bingguo said China will continue playing an active and constructive part in the climate talks.

Dai suggested the negotiations should stick to the basic framework of the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol and the mandate of the Bali Roadmap and follow the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities."

The developed countries should set the targets to take the lead in reducing the greenhouse gases emissions and the arrangements should be made to provide adequate financial and technological support to developing countries, he said.

He also stressed China, as a country of 1.3 billion people with per capita GDP ranking about 100th in the world, faces the serious task of growing the economy and improving people's livelihood.

"At a stage of accelerated industrialization and urbanization, China's energy demand will see further reasonable growth. Therefore, we face significant constraints in controlling greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

Figueres expressed appreciation for China's efforts in hosting the meeting.

"We take it as a very symbolic gesture of China to support the inter-government process," she said.

China set an "impressive" target to reduce its carbon dioxide emission intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels and it has already introduced legislation to guarantee the pledge will be met, she said.

China joins other countries in agreeing to be flexible in order to reach compromises that are necessary for Cancun's success, she said.

UN climate change talks open in Tianjin
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change makes a speech at the opening session on Oct 4 in Tianjin. [Photo/Xinhua] 

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