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Cancun progress on second commitment period and global emission cuts should be
furthered at Durban.
Climate change is one of the issues of crucial importance
to the interests of human beings and the national development of every country.
It requires the collaborative efforts of all countries.
Thanks to the joint efforts of all parties, the Cancun Agreements were adopted
at Cancun, Mexico, in December last year. They are of significant importance to
furthering mutual understanding and advancing the negotiating process.
China's contribution to the Cancun Conference
The Copenhagen Conference in 2009 caused a certain amount of skepticism among
parties about the effectiveness of the multilateral mechanism under the United
Nations framework. Under such circumstances, along with other developing
countries, China strongly supported the multilateral negotiation mechanism of
the United Nations by pressing for more ad hoc working group meetings in 2010,
in order to achieve concrete progress and practical results in Cancun, as well
as guaranteeing the negotiations got back on track.
In the meantime, by exchanging opinions with all parties on important issues at
the Cancun Conference, China enhanced mutual understanding with all parties, so
as to overcome divergences and boost mutual trust. China reinforced coordination
and cooperation among developing countries through BASIC and the "Group of 77
and China", and had constructive dialogues with developed countries to enhance
mutual confidence. This paved the way for success in Cancun.
In communications with the Mexican Presidency of COP-16/CMP6, China put forward
constructive proposals and extended its full support. China hosted the last
climate change conference before the Cancun Conference in Tianjin last October.
The Tianjin Conference succeeded in building a solid foundation for a successful
Cancun Conference by creating a consensus "seeking a set of balanced outcomes
from elements within and between the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol".
China also carried out a series of practical actions to accomplish the targets
of energy-saving and emission reductions set up for the 11th Five-Year Plan
(2006-2010). During this period, China reduced its energy consumption per unit
of GDP by 19.06 percent on the 2005 levels, which is equivalent to reducing 1.5
billion tons of CO2 emissions. The 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) attaches even
more strategic importance to the work of addressing climate change and green
low-carbon development. The international community has recognized China's
efforts in tackling climate change, which has bolstered the confidence of all
parties in their future cooperation to combat climate change.
During the Cancun Conference, the Chinese delegation was fully engaged in the
negotiations, adhering to the principle of common but differentiated
responsibilities and endeavored to ensure openness, transparency and
inclusiveness. On important issues, such as long-term global goals, the second
commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, international consultation and analysis
of mitigation actions by developing countries, as well as emission reduction
commitments by developed countries, China, with its flexibility, communicated
with all parties to formulate a plan that could be accepted by all and that
protects the interests of developing countries.
The Government of Mexico and Mexican President Felipe Calderon have publicly
appreciated China's support and contribution to the Cancun Conference many
times, and this has been echoed by the wider international community.
International negotiations on climate change: an arduous task
The COP17/CMP7 will be held in Durban, South Africa, at the end of this year. No
doubt the talks will be arduous, but participants should seek to translate the
challenges into opportunities in order to preserve the current achievements and
reach a new consensus.
The Durban Conference should strictly follow the mandate of the Bali Road Map,
carry out the Cancun Agreements, and enhance implementation of the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol to achieve
a comprehensive and balanced outcome by accomplishing the following four major
First, the Durban Conference should determine deeper quantified emission
reduction targets for developed countries in the second commitment period of the
The Kyoto Protocol is one of two negotiating tracks, its first commitment period
ends in 2012. The Cancun Agreements require that there is no gap between the
first and the second commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol, thus, the Durban
Conference should fix the targets as soon as possible. This is the most urgent
task of the Durban Conference.
The Kyoto Protocol is an integral part of the legal framework for the
international community to address climate change. Having a second commitment
period of the Kyoto Protocol is a firm demand by developing countries and is a
continuation of the existing legal framework and political trust among and
between developed and developing countries.
In the meantime, based on the Cancun Agreements, developed countries should
raise the level of their emission reduction commitments. Only if developed
countries conduct ambitious mid-term emission reductions, can the possibility of
limiting global warming to a 2 degrees Celsius rise in global temperature be
realized. Moreover, only if the emission reduction targets of developed
countries in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol be determined,
can the emission reduction targets of developed countries that are not parties
to the Kyoto Protocol be compared.
Second, the Durban Conference shall also determine the emission reduction
targets of developed countries that are not parties to the Kyoto Protocol
comparable with the commitments of other developed countries, and the autonomous
mitigation actions of developing countries.
In accordance with the mandate of the Bali Road Map, developed countries that
are parties to the Kyoto Protocol shall undertake emission reduction targets
under the Kyoto Protocol, while developed countries that are not parties to the
Kyoto Protocol shall undertake comparable emission reduction targets under the
Convention. The comparability of emission reduction efforts shall include
comparability in nature, magnitude and compliance.
Developing countries should, in the context of sustainable development, actively
carry out mitigation actions with the financial and technological support from
developed countries. Many developing countries have set up targets for their
autonomous emission reduction actions. As long as developed countries carry out
international legally binding emission reduction targets by 2020, in accordance
with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, we can, in a
proper legal form, define the mitigation actions of developing countries and
recognize their efforts to reduce emissions.
Third, we should implement the relevant financial and technology transfer
Most developing countries have taken active actions to address climate change.
However, the developed countries are lagging far behind in providing effective
financial and technological support to developing countries. Only by
establishing effective mechanisms, and providing adequate financial and
technological support, can developing countries effectively implement mitigation
actions, and make a positive contribution to holding the increase in global
temperature below 2 degrees Celsius as a long-term global goal.
Fourth, we need to further elaborate on the MRV (measurable, reportable and
verifiable) and transparency related issues that were included in the Cancun
The Cancun Agreements have clearly defined the principles for MRV and
transparency. At the upcoming Durban Conference, China will support detailed
arrangements for the MRVs of emission reduction commitments for developed
countries, as well as financial and technology support to developing countries
from developed countries. Such arrangements shall fully reflect the principle of
common but differentiated responsibilities between developing and developed
The international negotiations on climate change are a long-term and arduous
task. The Cancun Conference showed that the United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, as a United Nations multilateral
process, are still full of vigor and play an irreplaceable role after 20 years
of negotiations. So long as each of our countries takes the interests of human
beings as the priority, shows its spirit in cooperation and compromise and
unswervingly adheres to the basic framework and principles of the Convention and
its Kyoto Protocol, we can further the process of international cooperation on
China has been, is, and will always be, a constructive force advancing
international negotiations on climate change. China will work with all parties
to make active efforts to achieve a positive outcome at the Durban Conference.
The author is vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission.