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China is willing to make its voluntary carbon emissions target part of a binding U.N. resolution, a concession which may pressure developed countries to extend the Kyoto Protocol, a senior negotiator told Reuters.
U.N. climate talks in Mexico’s Cancun beach resort hinge on agreement to cement national emissions targets after 2012 when the current round of Kyoto carbon caps end.
China’s compromise would depend on the United States agreeing to binding emissions cuts and an extension of Kyoto, which binds the emissions of nearly 40 developed countries, except the United States which didn’t ratify it.
Developing nations want to continue the protocol while industrialized backers including Japan, Russia and Canada want a separate agreement regulating all nations.
China has previously rejected making its domestic emissions goals binding, as they are for industrialized nations now.
“We can create a resolution and that resolution can be binding on China,” said Huang Huikang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s envoy for climate change talks.
“Under the (U.N. Climate) Convention, we can even have a legally binding decision. We can discuss the specific form. We can make our efforts a part of international efforts.”
“Our view is that to address these concerns, there’s no need to overturn the Kyoto Protocol and start all over again.”
The proposal was a “gamechanger,” said Jennifer Morgan at the Washington-based World Resources Institute.
“This is a very constructive and useful statement by China and points to a way forward for an agreement in Cancun.”
“The devil is in the details but this is a promising development,” said Alden Meyer from the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists.
At a briefing later, China’s chief negotiator Xie Zhenhua said that China’s targets could be brought under the Convention.
“Developing countries can voluntarily use their own national resources to make their own voluntary emissions commitments, and these commitments should be under the Convention.”
Huang said China would not shift from demanding that new emissions targets are contained within an extended Kyoto.
Beijing has long insisted that its efforts were binding only domestically and could not be brought into any international deal.
“In the past, China may have said that there’d be no linking and we will act voluntarily without attaching any conditions, but now after all this is an international effort and can be fully part of that. This is a kind of compromise,” he said.
“We’re willing to compromise, we’re willing to play a positive and constructive role, but on this issue (Kyoto) there’s no room for compromise.”
Developing nations, including the world’s top carbon emitter China, agreed at a summit in Copenhagen last year to take voluntary steps to curb the growth of their emissions.
China’s pledge was to reduce its “carbon intensity” — the amount of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), emitted for each dollar of economic growth. It plans to reduce this by 40-45 percent by 2020 compared to 2005.
Huang said that intensity target could be reflected in a resolution.
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