Negotiation Drags On at COP19 in Warsaw

Doesn’t China have an obligation to reduce its greenhouse emissions? Ongoing (and thus far, contentious) negotiations in Warsaw this week reveal the PRC’s “you first” approach–a policy approach that is explored in this Dot Earth interview with Zou Ji, deputy director of China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy:

For the other aspect, its international responsibility, my understanding is China will take its responsibilities as a large developing country, but certainly subject to its capabilities, also on an equitable basis. China will make the decision not only with the understanding of its own situation …but also the overall design of the global responsibility system, including looking at the share of burden or benefits in the process from other countries – for example the United States, Europe, Japan.

In these aspects China continues to keep the idea of common but differentiated responsibilities [background], very frankly.… China insists in the position to make the framework [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] the political and legal basis for the global regime and we do not see the necessity or need to rewrite or interpret the convention. There have been a lot of changes in the past years, but our observation is for the basis of the convention, its principles and supporting scientific facts, there have been no significant changes.

via A Closer Look at China’s ‘You First’ Stance in Climate Treaty Talks – NYTimes.com.

Other updates from 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw:

  • Why one group calls a coalition of Australia, Canada and Japan the “climate saboteurs
  • Full coverage, including live blogging from The Guardian and the G77 + China (132 countries) “walkout” during talks about “loss and damage”
  • Follow the negotiations blow-by-blow @Twitter #cop19 climate
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3 thoughts on “Negotiation Drags On at COP19 in Warsaw

  1. Joshua Dennis says:

    I kind of feel bad for China. For more than a century, the Western states that were early adopters of industrialization were able to operate without care or even knowledge on the effects they were having on the environment. But now that China is trying to enter the game and catch up, the West is trying to make them clean up their act. At the same time, China needs to step up and actually take the lead in becoming environmentally friendly. Instead, China seems to be trying to “cop out” in this statement from COP19.

  2. If I remember correctly, our Global Issues textbook says that (in 2010) the USA was the largest CO2 emitter, China coming in second, and that Australia was the largest CO2 per capita emitter in the world. I’m sure some things may have changed since then, but surely not by much.

    If anything, I know for a fact that the US cannot be the one pointing fingers, and the West in general should not point their fingers at China while Australia, Canada, and the US, their undisputed friends, continue their own environmental travesty. China’s “you-first” policy is more than understandable and I morally support it.

    As for engaging in renewable energy use, I recently read this article about Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota’s plan to mass-produce and introduce H2 fuel-cell cars on the American market. The biggest obstacle to this implementation is the lack of a H2 station infrastructure. Apparently, H2 cars can go up to 300 miles between refills, and the results of H2 fuel cells are heat and water… The sad thing about this is that we could have been there decades ago.

    • Taylor Shippen says:

      Actually, China’s CO2 emissions almost double the U.S.’s. According to the UN, in 2008 China was emitting 3 million megatons more CO2 than the U.S. As of 2012, it appears that number has grown to 9860 million megatons, while the U.S. has emitted 800,000 megatons less than it did in 2008. What you may be referring to Mihai is the amount of CO2 emitted per capita, in which the U.S. is the undisputed king. The difference is that the world cannot afford China’s per capita emissions to reach post-industrial levels without cleaning up its act. Yes, it isn’t fair that western countries got the first mover advantage when it comes to industrialization, but is it fair to continue the creation of typhoons that can wipe cities off the map? We look back at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and commit ourselves as a race to “never again” use the bomb, and yet we’re completely complacent when we see images of typhoon devastation that level parts of entire countries. Even New York seems unfazed after its subways were shutdown from Hurricane Sandy (which wasn’t even classified as a hurricane when it actually made landfall).

      And that’s just CO2 emissions. The amount of other more toxic air pollutants that Chinese manufacturing puts into the atmosphere dwarfs every other country that has a more regulated economy. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want sulfur from cheap coal burned in China to end up in my lungs, nor do most Chinese. China’s reluctance to take on its environmental problems stem from the instability of its own government. The Chinese government relies upon economic growth for its political legitimacy; which means its hands are tied when creating laws that could move industries into other, less regulated countries. While I have not completely abandoned hope that the Chinese people will demand greater ecological regulation in their country, I highly doubt that they will be willing to pay the price in investment a few years that other countries have been gradually phasing in for decades unless the world is willing to pay a higher price for their manufactured goods. It isn’t all China’s burden to bear, but some major changes do need to occur within that country. Stopping 10% emissions growth per year would be a goo start.

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