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Chinese objections slowing down U.N. talks on fighting climate change, top official says

Chinese objections slowing down U.N. talks on fighting climate change, top official says

About 1,500 amendments and objections raised by Chinese officials risk bogging down U.N. talks on fighting climate change, a senior delegate at the Bangkok meeting said.
Scientists and government officials from more than 100 countries are reviewing a 24-page draft summary for policymakers outlining ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and the costs of preventing damaging climate change.
But, as with two other reports released this year by the U.N. climate panel, scientists at the Bangkok gathering are squaring off with governments, some of which want to change or water down the latest draft report, which is due for release on Friday.
Chinese officials have demanded a last-minute insertion of a paragraph spelling out that industrialized nations are to blame for most of the greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution.
"They want a statement that the cumulative proportion of emissions due to industrial countries is very high - it's about 75 percent," said the delegate, who did not wish to be identified.
"But they do not want a statement that also says that the proportion is declining. In the 1970s, the proportion of cumulative emissions was 90 percent due to industrialized countries. Now it's 77 percent. They don't want these two numbers reported. They only want one that is favorable to them reported," he added.
He said such a demand by the Chinese breached IPCC procedures and risked opening the way for other countries to request last-minute details to be inserted.
"For a government to insist on putting something else into the summary of policymakers, even though it's not in the chapter, is to take over the whole process," he added.
"The Chinese have a lot of other things they want to do. They want to gut the report of meaning in lots of different ways. So this is just the start of what they are up to," he said.
The delegate said about 1,500 amendments spanning more than 160 pages have been proposed for the draft report and many of these amendments would be discussed during the week in special contact groups. Talks could run well into the night.
The report estimates that stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions will cost between 0.2 percent and 3.0 percent of world gross domestic product by 2030, depending on the stiffness of curbs on rising emissions of greenhouse gases.
But the delegate said sections of the report dealing with this could be altered.
"The whole issue of costs to reduce emissions could be watered down, the assessment of the potential to reduce emissions to low enough levels to prevent dangerous climate change, this could be taken out," he added.
But another delegate and a veteran of climate negotiations said yesterday the talks were proceeding normally.
"It's exactly the same as one would expect in these things. Basically what happens is there is a whole lot of fiddling around for the first couple of days and then people get down to work.
"This is standard U.N. practice," he added.