Chinese climate envoy wants 'progress' at talks

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China will play an active and constructive role at the upcoming Cancun climate conference and work toward a new global deal to reduce carbon emissions next year in South Africa, said Huang Huikang, the country's special climate envoy.

Some low-hanging fruit - such as an agreement on a carbon fund, mechanisms for adaptation and technology transfer, and a forest protection agreement - could be plucked at the talks in Cancun, Mexico, when representatives from more than 190 countries and regions meet later this month. 

But Huang said at a news conference in Beijing that it would be wrong if developed countries blame developing nations at the talks for any lack of transparency in their monitoring and if the developed nations use that as an excuse to block negotiations.

"In principle, developing countries do not think improving transparency is an issue. Actually, China agrees that its voluntary domestic actions on mitigating carbon emissions be subject to international consultation and analysis (ICA)," he said.

China hopes to reach some "political consensus" on how to verify developing countries' efforts in Cancun, while leaving the details of any such consensus to be discussed in future climate talks.

The United States and the European Union have been insisting that emerging economies should monitor, report and verify their domestic efforts in the same way as developed countries.

Brazil, China, India and South Africa have already reached a consensus on the basic principle of how to carry out ICA, said Huang.

"The goal is to share (emission) information and provide technical assistance to developing countries, so that the ICA process should respect sovereignty and be done in a non-intrusive, non-punitive manner," he said.

ICA should also be applicable to all developing countries, instead of targeting only certain nations, he added.

Huang urged the industrialized countries, the main culprits for causing climate change that are responsible for 80 percent of the carbon emissions in the atmosphere, to set themselves deeper targets for cutting greenhouse gases. He also called on those countries to provide substantial financial and technical support to developing nations - which are the main victims of global warming.

"The international community has agreed that the global temperature increase should be kept below 2 C, to avoid disastrous climate events but, currently, the pledges made by developed countries still fall far short of what is needed to reach that goal," Huang said.

Countries failed to agree last year in Copenhagen on a new global climate treaty, ending up instead with the Copenhagen Accord, a non-binding political document.

The first commitments from the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nation's main tool for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, will expire in 2012. Observers say it is crucial that the world hammers out a new deal by next year.

"What we need now is substantial progress in Cancun, which will help ensure an agreement is reached in South Africa in 2011," Huang said.

However, Todd Stern, the US special climate envoy, thinks differently, saying countries shouldn't get bogged down on a deadline for carbon emission cuts, Reuters reported.

"I don't personally think so," Stern was cited as saying when asked if there should be a deadline for the climate talks. "I think it should get done when it's ripe."

Stern reiterated that Washington will stick to the 17 percent emission reduction target by 2020 from 2005 levels that was pledged by US president Barack Obama, despite the US Congress' failure to pass a climate bill.

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