China Strategy Holds Key to Climate Deal
Mary Ann Benitez
China and Japan’s strategy of reducing emissions by increasing efficiency should serve as a model for a global climate deal, international experts say.
The United Nations wants the December 7-18 Copenhagen meeting to yield a legally binding agreement by all nations to fight climate change, but negotiations have stalled.
Copenhagen “is dead on arrival,” said Professor Gwyn Prins, of the London School of Economics, at a meeting of the Hong Kong-based debating forum Intelligence Squared Asia yesterday.
“There will be no agreement on legally enforceable targets,” said Prins, who has been following climate politics since 1976.
Co-author of the much-read Nature scientific journal article Time to Ditch Kyoto, Prins said the diplomatic negotiation approach used for Kyoto has made no “discernible difference” in emissions reduction.
After the meeting Prins said he believed the Asian approach of focusing on reducing emissions by improving efficiency is “a win-win situation.”
“Japan is the world’s second largest economy (but) it is the most energy- efficient economy. It is the only one which has produced a real plan for reducing emissions that could work, without at the same time, doing damage to its economy,” he said.
Prins said the Chinese government was using the same strategy to make a real difference.
The choice for nations at the Copenhagen summit is very simple, he said.
“If you think that politics is just about words, stick with Kyoto and Copenhagen. If you think that politics is about action, look at the approach of the Chinese, Indian and Japanese governments.”
Civic Exchange chief executive Christine Loh Kung-wai said she expected negotiations would continue next year until the next summit in Mexico in December 2010.
But she is hopeful that Copenhagen might see agreements being reached on forest management and minor issues such as reporting verifications.
Loh said sending the Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah to Copenhagen as part of the Chinese delegation was appropriate.
Sunita Narain, director of the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi, said: “The West can’t reduce their emissions. Their emissions are actually increasing and they are looking for all ways out of it. China is basically arguing that they have the right to development. They are not asking for the right to pollute.”
There will be no climate change deal “if we do not understand the voices of China and India”, Narain said.
Copyright 2009, TS
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