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Success at Copenhagen up in the air

By Li Xing and Sun Xiaohua (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-12 09:17
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Success at Copenhagen up in the air
Activists from the World Wildlife Fund create a poster outlining climate woes and cures at the UN Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen on Friday. [Agencies]

COPENHAGEN: Nations are starting to focus on the bigger pictures so as to ensure progress and deliver substantive results of the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference, UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said on Friday at the regular press briefing.

Two draft texts of the final documents have been tabled. The two draft documents are Long Term Cooperative Action and Amendments to the Kyoto Protocol.

There is the need to bring the two documents together so as to take the work forward in preparations for the arrival of the heads of states and governments, de Boer said.

A lot more work needs to be done because "demons live in the details," said Su Wei, chief negotiator and deputy director of the Chinese delegation.

China is committed to bringing a successful outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, however, mitigating climate change should not be done at the expense of the rights to development by developing countries, He Yafei, vice foreign minister, told the press on Dec 11 following De Boer's press conference.

The priority for China and developing countries is poverty, He said.

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"The final documents should address the needs and aspirations of developing countries, but it should not be in favor of a certain group of countries," He said.

He said that "the next few days will be crucial and negotiations will be intensified".

The vice-minister also lashed out at the top US climate negotiator, saying he either lacks common sense or is "extremely irresponsible".

He was responding to comments by US climate envoy Todd Stern that China shouldn't expect any American climate aid money and that the United States was not in any debt to the world for its historical carbon emissions.

Speaking about Stern to reporters on Friday, the Chinese representative said "I think he lacks common sense or is extremely irresponsible".

Over the past few days, the negotiations have run into deadlocks over several issues, which include the long-term goals of limiting global temperature rise by 2 or 1.5 degrees Celsius, emission reduction targets of the developed countries, the amount of financing to be facilitated by developed countries and possible actions taken by developing countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

The idea of having a single one treaty is not "off the table" de Boer said, even though an "overwhelming number of countries" want a two-track outcome, meaning producing two separate documents.

Small island nations have demanded that the conference produce documents that set binding emission reduction targets not only for developed countries but also for major developing countries.

He Yafei said that China has been in close consultation with small island countries.

"We may not see eye-to-eye on specific issues, but we share the same view that the key to the success of the conference is for developed countries to keep promise and to deliver."

"They cannot postpone it," He said, noting that the first implementation period is almost over and yet the developed countries have not kept up their promise.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Vice-Minister stressed that tackling climate change needs multilateral cooperation.

"Nations should work together and not against each other," he said.

He refuted the notion of G2, saying that the US and China cannot tackle climate change on themselves.

As to the financing, de Boer said that the nations have tentatively agreed to set up an annual climate fund of $10 billion per year. This amount is criticized as not enough for a cup of coffee for everyone in the developing countries.

As to European Union's pledge of 30 percent of the $10 billion financing in the next three years, He Yafei said the amount set for the next three years is obviously not aimed at long-term.

Emphasizing China will fulfill its commitment even without aid, He said he was "shocked by Todd Stern's words", that "I don't envision public funds, certainly not from the US, going to China".

He criticized the people still debating about whether the rich countries should be giving money to developing countries either "lack common sense or are truely irresponsible".

During his press conference, de Boer announced that some 115 heads of states or governments will start to arrive in Copenhagen next week.

"Lots of things will happen next week," he said, adding that the leaders will make national statements and talk among each other in consultations and "resolve the final issues".

There will be "grand stand" ceremonies with the Queen of Denmark organizing a dinner and photo sessions.