A significant shift and softening of China’s initial acrimonious response to Tuvalu’s proposal happened during this morning’s plenary (CMP) session. While China reemphasized their opposition to any proposals that contradict the Kyoto Protocol, they said they felt “very sympathetic about the proposal from Tuvalu,” and were “flexible and ready” to have discussion on some (and not all) of the proposal items, particularly those that don’t serve the purpose of the Kyoto Protocol. Is this a sign that China and the G-77 have made up and are back together? The verdict is still out on this, and, while some have long predicted a China/G-77 split, we do feel that perhaps the relationship is on the mend. In fact Su Wei was more than 30 minutes late to his press briefing this evening because he had just been meeting with the head of the G-77 delegation.
When directly asked what the outcome of his meeting with the G-77 was, Mr. Su responded with diplomatic aplomb, saying that their conversation mainly focused on logistics. While we seriously question whether Mr. Su was really in discussion so heated about logistics that it caused him to be more than half an hour late to his scheduled press briefing, he claimed that China and the G-77 had reached an agreement and wanted to determine the best way to proceed for the remainder of COP-to ensure a comfortable (舒服 in Chinese) environment for everyone.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times claims that China had a hand in preparing the controversial Danish text:
Developing countries including China, India, Brazil, Algeria, Ethiopia and Bangladesh had “input into the process and product” of the proposed agreement, the source said.
Representatives of those nations knew about the agreement’s most controversial provisions, including commitments for greenhouse gas reductions by developing countries and a reduced role for the United Nations in climate policy, well before the summit began. It was unclear if everyone in the room agreed to every provision.
The proposal sparked breathless global news coverage; loud protests in the Bella Center here, where negotiators are gathered; and a run of outraged news conferences, all from poor nations and nonprofit groups that work closely with them, which complained that the draft provisions would penalize developing nations to the benefit of wealthy countries such as the United States and Denmark.
Does China have a clear, coordinated approach to climate talks, or is the government beset by competing interests internally?
I think that China’s approach to climate change is quite well coordinated internally because it’s driven by the need to maintain social stability at home. China has always had difficulty feeding itself so it’s more aware of its dependence on nature than we are in the West. In order to keep growing, China has to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and because pollution is a major cause of unrest, China wants to improve the environment and avoid further damage. China’s been the main beneficiary of money coming from Kyoto offsets, so it will negotiate hard to keep that advantage in Copenhagen, but I think that China has a strong interest in a global effort to lower carbon emissions so there are few dissenting voices at home and a deal will get done.