From The Wall St. Journal:
So China is really playing the developing nation card here and calling upon richer nations to help out those not at a high-level of economic development yet though.
China, in a new document outlining its stance ahead of December climate talks in Copenhagen, says it wants developed nations to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 40% by 2020 from 1990 levels. But that is a far more aggressive cut than the level proposed in the U.S.'s Waxman-Markey bill. Europe, in turn, has pledged to cut emissions by at least 20% by 2020 from 1990 levels, and by 30% if other advanced economies follow suit.
The divergent views come as negotiations begin in earnest for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012. China's 40% target represents the high end of cuts in emissions mentioned in the 2007 Bali road map, which stopped short of endorsing a specific target.
China is also asking rich countries to donate at least 0.5% to 1% of annual gross domestic product to help poorer countries cope with climate change and greenhouse-gas emissions, it said in the document, which was posted on the Web site of the National Development and Reform Commission, its economic policy-making body.
China has resisted any mandatory quotas on carbon emissions. The country is widely considered to have surpassed the U.S. as the world's top polluter.
Somewhat surprisingly, China appears to be walking the walk and not simply talking the talk on this issue.
From The New York Times:
China's efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions are "impressive" and are often underestimated in the United States, President Obama's top climate change ambassador said yesterday.I suppose there might some kind of politicking behind these comments, but the reason why Stern would give false praise to the Chinese isn't abundantly clear to me. Stern may very well just be stating what he really believes or is observing.
U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern told E&E that when major economies meet in Paris on climate change next week, they will try to bridge the gap between ambitious domestic energy agendas in some emerging nations like China and the seemingly unyielding negotiating positions that developing countries take to the U.N. global warming talks.
"If you look at what a country like China is actually doing with respect to climate change, it's quite significant," Stern said. "It's quite impressive in many ways."
China and the United States are the world's biggest global warming polluters, accounting for 47 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol -- to which the United States is not a party -- requires only industrialized countries to make cuts. So far, neither America nor China has been willing to reduce emissions before the other.
Advocates for a new global climate treaty in Copenhagen this year say an agreement between China and the United States is critical. Chinese negotiators, meanwhile, have remained firm in insisting that industrialized countries act first and that developing nations not be forced to make legally binding commitments.
Still, Stern said he believes Americans often wrongly assume China is not acting on climate change at all.
"In fact, they have a 20 percent energy intensity goal, they've got a significant renewable energy goal, and they've got an auto standard that is about where our brand-new ones are," Stern said, referring to the Obama administration's proposed new fuel efficiency targets of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.
"It's clearly not enough," he said, but added, "they've got a lot of things going on."
Combatting climate change and carbon emissions seems like a great economic opportunity in addition to being the responsible thing to do. It would not be surprising to me if China and the US were to embrace fighting climate change for economic reasons more than anything else.
Developing clean energy resources could be a great way to innovate one's country out of recession. Becoming less reliant on oil, its fluxuating prices, and the shady countries that provide much of it would also be a very noble and practical goal.
Whether the adoption of an agreement to reduce carbon emissions by China, the US, and the rest of the world happens because of attempts to cultivate new economic opportunities or because of genuine concern for the environment doesn't matter too much to me. As long as some kind of action is taken, that is enough for me.