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Chinese puzzle bamboozles U.N. climate talks

Chinese puzzle bamboozles U.N. climate talks

U.N. talks on climate change are at risk of bogging down under the weight of hundreds of amendments from governments and China's objections to a proposed blueprint for battling global warming, a senior delegate said on Tuesday.
Scientists and government officials from more than 100 countries are meeting in Bangkok to review 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 gathering are squaring off with governments, some of which want to change or water down the latest draft report due for release on Friday.
Chinese officials have demanded a last-minute insertion of a paragraph spelling out that industrialised 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.
Such a demand breached IPCC procedures and risked opening the way for other countries to request last-minute details to be inserted, potentially bogging down the talks, he said.
"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.

Governments had proposed about 1,500 amendments spanning more than 160 pages and many would be discussed during the week in special contact groups, the delegate said. Talks could run well into the night.
The report estimates that stabilising 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 sections of the report dealing with this could be altered or even taken out, the delegate said .
Another delegate, a veteran of climate negotiations, said the politicking was normal.
"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.
He described the Chinese move to insert the paragraph as nothing new and mere posturing ahead of Kyoto Protocol talks in Bali in December at which China, India and other big developing nations will come under pressure to cut emissions.
China is now the world's second biggest producer of greenhouse gases after the United States, and India is fourth.
Beijing and New Delhi are excluded from Kyoto's first phase that ends in 2012, setting targets to cut emissions, but Washington is demanding they agree to curbs.
The United States, which pulled out of Kyoto, says it doesn't make sense for the giant economies of India and China to remain outside a global emissions pact.
"China doesn't want to be corralled into commitments that minimise its freedom of action and questioning the science, and digging in is part of that," said Paul Harris, an expert on climate change politics at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.
"It wants to put off into the future the serious discussion of accepting mandatory limits," Harris said.
The Global Times, a newspaper run by China's ruling Communist Party, accused Western politicians last week of using "climate terrorism" to undermine China's quest for prosperity.
Senior EU climate policy expert Tom Van Ireland said it was crucial to engage China to cap global emissions.
"We don't ask India, China and Brazil to do the same things we ask from developed countries, which is taking binding targets to reduce their emissions," he said.
But it was crucial they adopted cleaner and greener technology to cut emissions, he said. (Additional reporting by Chris Buckley in Beijing)


Updated : 2021-06-17 13:51 GMT+08:00