Key negotiator vows 'constructive' contribution at climate summit

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China will try to make constructive contribution to the Copenhagen climate summit next month and will not accept it ends with an "empty" declaration, a key Chinese negotiator said Tuesday.

"The copenhagen conference will be a milestone and written into history, therefore, too much expectation has been put on it," said Li Gao, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) who has been a key climate change negotiator representing the Chinese government for years.

"We will try to make the summit successful and we will not accept that it ends with an empty and so-called political declaration," Li said at a forum, two weeks ahead of the long-anticipated summit.

Representatives of about 190 countries will attend the 15th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from Dec. 7 to 18 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Chinese delegation would leave for Denmark at the end of November, Li said.

The meeting is expected to renew GHG emissions reduction targets set by the UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol, the first stage of which is to expire in 2012.

It is also expected to further outline the post-2012 negotiation path.

Li said the conference itself cannot save the earth or solve all the problems, and the world has to continue moving forward.

He said "the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Road Map have always been China's bottom line in international climate negotiations."

The Bali Road Map, agreed by UNFCCC parties in 2007, laid out a two-year process to finalizing a binding agreement in 2009 in Copenhagen. It covers climate-related aspects such as emission cutting, mitigation, forestation, adaptation, financing and technology transfer.

Li said all parties should negotiate under the framework of the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Road Map, "or else the conference would end futile."

The current state of climate negotiations, he said, "has made some progress, but seriously inadequate."

Li's remark came as the United States, a major UNFCCC party, would attend the summit without any domestic legally binding document on quantified target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Pessimism seems to loom large on the congress as negotiations could not produce tangible result when the United States, as one of the world's largest greenhouse-gas emitters, comes unprepared.

The Kyoto Protocol, signed under the UNFCCC regime in 1997 by most UNFCCC parties except the United States, requires developed countries to set clear targets for emission reduction. The European Union, Canada, Japan and Australia, among other developed members, all set respective targets.

The U.S. Senate did not approve the Protocol a dozen years ago.

But an anonymous senior U.S. official said Monday that his country would reveal its specific target soon, so that all nations would put their emission targets on the table of the Copenhagen meeting.

The United States has been under pressure from other nations when the Copenhagen conference draws near, as the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), aiming to mitigating climate change, would not likely to be passed by the Senate by the end of 2009.

Many U.S. lawmakers worry that the bill, requiring a 20 percent cut in GHG emissions from the 2005 level by 2020, would hurt economy, although the emission reduction target was still viewed as "too weak" to tackle dangerous consequences of climate change, observers said.

Despite all the difficulties ahead, Li said financing offered by developed nations and technological transfer had made some progress, which paved the success for the conference.

"It would be called a successful summit and possibly produce a framework," he said, adding more discussions in detail would be completed in next year's meetings.

However, Li said China "will not accept any separate legal document" that put the Kyoto Protocol aside.

Observers say although some developed countries such as the United States cannot publicly deny the validity of the Kyoto Protocol, they could use various hidden means to make it void and legally useless, and let another legal document, in line with their own interest, replace it.

"Abiding by the Protocol and adhered to the UNFCCC-envisioned 'common but differentiated responsibilities' is a matter of principle," Li said, adding discussions on climate change with EU leaders was expected at the regular China-EU meeting later this month.

Developing countries will also discuss with each other to reach some agreements and learn each other's concern, so that they can join hands and negotiate pertinently at the Copenhagen meeting, experts said.

"Parties of the climate talk can speak louder and confidently if some of them (that have made agreement ahead) speak in one voice," Li said, indicating the pre-summit negotiations among countries.

Developing and developed nations also made such pre-summit meetings. Taking the world's two largest GHG emitters as an example, China and the U.S. signed a memorandum of understanding encouraging cooperation on climate change and cleaner energy in July.

During U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to China earlier this month, the two sides singed a joint statement in Beijing after talks between Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, agreeing that "the transition to a green and low-carbon economy is essential."

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