China and U.S. Hit Strident Impasse at Climate Talks

The New York Times reports on the impasse between the U.S. and China over monitoring and compliance of any any treaty:

Chinese negotiators have said little during formal negotiation sessions here, where they have been working in partnership with the developing countries. They have made clear that they do not expect money from the industrial powers to help make the shift to a more energy-efficient economy.

But they will not accept any outside monitors to ensure that they are indeed making the changes that they have promised to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other pollutants emitted per unit of economic output.

“I think there’s no doubt that China, when it says 40 to 45 percent reduction in energy intensity, is serious about that,” said Ed Miliband, the British secretary of state for energy and climate change. “The more challenging hurdle is finding a formula for ensuring the outside world that an avoided ton of gas is in fact a ton.”

He Yafei, the Chinese vice foreign minister, said China’s laws would guarantee compliance.

“This is a matter of principle,” even if it scuttles the talks, he said in an interview with The Financial Times.

On Shanghai Scrap
, Adam Minter looks at a similar article in the Financial Times and says the New York Times is taking the Chinese negotiator’s quote out of context:

This last quote – paired with the preceding “China’s laws would guarantee compliance” – made me perk up, in large part because China and its negotiators don’t like to talk about compliance. And, among the many reasons that they don’t like to talk about compliance, is that China isn’t able to enforce its environmental laws on a uniform, national basis (China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection has 2% of the staff enjoyed by the US EPA), and thus its industries rarely if ever comply.



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