China Combats Climate Change

China began hosting the current round of UN sponsored climate talks in Beijing last Sunday. China Daily reports on the opening of the talks:

The 2011 China International Forum on Climate Change opened in Beijing on Sunday to discuss ways to balance economic and environmental priorities, develop green industry and construct low-carbon cities.

The forum was attended by more than 200 officials, scholars and entrepreneurs from China and European countries, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, co-organizer of the event.

Delegates are expected to suggest new ways to curb greenhouse gas emissions and develop carbon-trading markets in the hope of providing insights for next month’s climate talks in Durban, South Africa.

Currently the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gasses, China may be establishing itself as a leader in the campaign to curb global warming. From The Guardian:

With four weeks to go until the next round of long-running international talks in Durban, the move highlights China’s attempt to take on a new leadership role by bridging the gulf between rich and poor countries.

But Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of the Chinese government’s National Development and Reform Commission, also told the Guardian that the best chance of progress was for developed countries to draw up a “Kyoto 2″, a second phase of the Kyoto protocol, the first agreement between nations to mandate country-by-country reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Its first commitment phase is due to expire next year.

[...]Many developing countries look to Beijing for leadership on this issue, so Xie’s ideas are likely to be influential. Xie, who played a prominent role in Copenhagen talks in 2009, is a major figure in the negotiations, and presented his proposal as a way to break the current deadlock.

However, the article continues, developed countries are less likely to agree with Beijing’s call for an extension of the Kyoto Protocol:

Developed world diplomats and experts contacted by the Guardian were cautious about the impact of the plan. Rich countries are unwilling to agree to legally binding cuts in their own emissions while those from emerging economies, even big emitters such as China, remain voluntary – but some said it could at least encourage developing countries to stay at the table. One long-time participant put the chances of a walkout by some developing countries at about one in five, but said China’s active encouragement could make the difference.

The climate talks in Beijing and the UN conference to begin in South Africa later this month are coming after an unprecedented spike in recorded global warming gasses. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated, a sign of how feeble the world’s efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.

The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.

[...]Extra pollution in China and the U.S. account for more than half the increase in emissions last year, Marland said.

For more on China and the global environmental crisis, see previous CDT coverage of China’s carbon emission goals, and how China’s carbon emissions compare to those of the US.

November 3, 2011 1:58 PM
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