US-China showdown looms over climate talks

Associated Press Writers
December 15, 2009

COPENHAGEN (AP) – In a showdown between the world’s two largest polluters, China accused the United States and other rich nations Tuesday of backsliding on commitments to fight global warming and the top American envoy declared the U.S. would not change its offer on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Trying to ease the tension, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said rich and poor countries must “stop pointing fingers” and should increase their pledges to cut emissions to salvage the faltering talks on a climate pact. The European Union also urged both the U.S. and China to increase their commitments on emissions targets.

New negotiating drafts circulating Tuesday showed key issues, including emissions targets for industrial countries and climate financing for developing countries, remained unresolved.

“The texts are getting less precise, seemingly,” said Melinda Kimble, senior vice president of the U.N. Foundation and a former U.S. climate negotiator.

Ban’s warning in an interview with The Associated Press came as world leaders began arriving in Copenhagen, kicking the two-week conference into high gear in its quest to deliver a deal to curb emissions that cause global warming.

The conference so far has been marked by sharp disagreements between China and the United States and deep divisions between rich and poor nations.

“You can’t even begin to have an environmentally sound agreement without the adequate, significant participation of China,” said U.S. special climate envoy Todd Stern.

China and other developing countries are resisting U.S.-led attempts to make their cuts in emissions growth binding and open to international scrutiny rather than voluntary.

China, the world’s largest polluter, is grouped with developing nations at the talks, but the U.S. doesn’t consider China to be in need of climate-change aid.

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