Friday, December 9, 2011

China an Unlikely Hero at Cop 17

China is often criticized for being the world’s biggest carbon emitter, but at COP 17 the country has emerged as an unlikely hero. China is in the process of reinventing itself and it is looking increasingly towards the green economy to do so. Chinese delegation head Xie Zhenhua said China might be willing to sign a legally binding agreement for reducing emissions.

If certain preconditions are met China would consider signing a binding agreement. “China is open,” Xie told reporters at COP 17.

According to booklet at the country’s official pavilion China is interested in “Working hard to tackle climate change.”

These claims as more than just hot air as China's new five-year government plan makes the country a global leader with its green growth and low-carbon initiatives.

However, China has repeatedly stated that as a developing nation, with no historical responsibility for carbon emissions, it cannot be held to the same standards as industrialized countries.
“China will shoulder the responsibility that is appropriate to its development,” Xie reiterated Monday.

South African international relations minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said "China is laying its cards on the table. Other negotiators will be laying the cards on the table and work then gets escalated. And that is what makes us hopeful we are moving in the right direction,” she said.

Despite a steller communications initiative China is unlikely to consider signing an internationally binding deal until after 2015, when a scientific assessment ends, and it wouldn’t take effect until 2020 at the earliest.

Until then China will focus on its domestic policies related to climate change, and the particularly tough task of implementing emissions controls in a country with runaway growth and the world’s biggest population.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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