U.S. envoy: no bilateral climate deal with China

Southern California Public Radio
Wednesday, October 28, 2009

President Obama’s envoy for climate change has dashed hopes of a bilateral deal on climate change during next month’s presidential trip to China. “There is no agreement per se,” said Todd Stern, adding that there had been no intention of cutting a separate bilateral deal.

He summed up the mood between Chinese and U.S. negotiators this way: “We’re pushing them, and they’re pushing us.”

Obama’s trip will focus on clean energy cooperation, and aligning Chinese and American positions ahead of the upcoming global climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

However, Stern admitted that differences remain, particularly over U.S. demands for China to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

“They absolutely have to cap their emissions in the sense of having them reduced significantly as compared to where their trend line is,” Stern said. “China could make a reduction twice as ambitious as the U.S. is doing, and that would still involve their emissions going up somewhere from where they are now.”

But Beijing is resisting U.S. pressure, arguing that it is using other measures. It already has announced a goal of improving energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2010. China also is planting trees over an area the size of California.

Zhou Fenqi from Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences echoes China’s line that emission caps would damage its development: “We could not limit the amount of food for a child, because a child needs to grow — he needs it more than an adult. We cannot do caps.”

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