China Perspective

China strives for renewal of Kyoto Protocol

Updated: 2011-06-09 17:01
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BONN, Germany - China is dedicated to achieving substantive progress in climate talks along with other developing countries, a senior Chinese climate official says.

Li Yanduan, the leader of the Chinese delegation at a new round of UN climate talks here, said China's dedication comes despite the reluctance of some developed nations to renew the soon-to-expire Kyoto Protocol.

Li Yanduan, who is a special representative from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the slow progress in reaching a consensus regarding the Kyoto Protocol has created concerns in Beijing and within the Group of 77, a coalition of developing nations.

The Kyoto Protocol binds almost 40 industrialized countries to emission cuts from 2008 to 2012. Analysts say that given the current stalement, it will be difficult to meet the December 2012 deadline to put in place a binding successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

One obstacle in the negotiations was the negative attitude of some developed countries toward signing up for a second renewable commitment period after 2012, Li said.

The June 6-17 round of UN climate negotiations is expected to pave the way for the COP 17 (17th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) climate change talks beginning in November in Durban, South Africa.

"The Bonn gathering is the most important opportunity for negotiators before the year-end climate change summit in Durban," Li said, "Like ships testing the waters, all parties are now trying to figure out the bottom line of others."

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The G-77 and China hold that the decision on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol remains "the very core issue" of current negotiations, Li said.

"It's a life-and-death problem for the Kyoto Protocol," she said.

While developing countries want to extend the pact, Japan, Russia and Canada have balked at the idea, saying they want a new deal with all major emitters, including China, India and the United States.

The US, which has not signed the treaty, said it would only accept a legally binding outcome that would engage all major economies.

The European Union said it would renew the Protocol only if other major economies also make significant emission-cuts commitment in the context of a global agreement using the "architecture" of Kyoto.

"Developed countries should shoulder their historical responsibilities and set substantial emission reduction goals," Li said, "They also have an obligation to provide adequate financial and technological support for developing countries, which are victims of climate change that also have to combat poverty and focus on economic development as their top priorities."

The Bali roadmap, adopted at the 2007 UN climate talks in Indonesia, has sketched out "a complete and balanced framework," Li said.

Under that agreement, developed nations, or the Protocol Annex I countries, pledge substantial and quantifiable emission cuts, while rich ones which did not ratify the pact should make comparable commitments. Developing countries can take independent mitigation actions based on their domestic situations and abilities, Li said.

"The architecture well reflects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and China will spare no efforts with other developing countries in promoting a balanced and comprehensive legal framework in Durban ministerial-level conference," Li said.

"The road leading to Durban seemed rugged, and in the next two weeks, the real give-and-take will begin," she said.