Progress possible in Cancun

The world’s media are getting ready for the United Nations Climate Change Conference that opens next Monday, in Cancun, Mexico.

Environmental ministers from more than 190 countries, as well as many heads of state, will attend the two-week negotiations.

There has been a lot of discussion over the standpoint China will adopt and what it will do during the coming negotiations.

Xie Zhenhua, China’s top climate official, has made it clear that China will do all it can to play a constructive role and push for progress in the global climate talks.

"It is for the benefit of the whole of mankind," he said.

China has been exchanging views with most countries in the lead-up to Cancun. Xie himself has been traveling around the world, holding discussions with his counterparts in other countries.

China also hosted preliminary talks in Tianjin in October, which Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said "got us closer" to a structured set of decisions that can be agreed at the Cancun summit.

There can be no doubt that China will work with all countries, including the United States, to try and deepen collaboration and find ways forward at the Cancun climate talks.

Xie said China "genuinely hopes" that the talks will produce a high level of consensus and "reduce the square brackets" (which denote areas of disagreement) in the negotiation texts as much as possible.

While it is understandable that each country pursues its own national interests, Xie said that the best way to achieve progress is to "seek common ground while shelving differences".

Although minor differences are bound to remain these should not be allowed to hamper the Cancun talks from achieving an outcome, "which might not satisfy everybody, but which is acceptable for all", he said.

Although a globally binding deal is probably beyond reach in Cancun, observers say agreements are possible in areas such as a climate fund, a technology transfer mechanism and forest protection. A positive outcome would help establish the foundations for a legally binding treaty in South Africa.

It is particularly important that countries move toward a substantive outcome on financing and technology transfer, as these two issues are crucial, Xie said.

The climate fund is aimed at helping developing countries – especially the most vulnerable developing countries – to adapt to climate change and reduce its adverse effects, while technology transfer would enable developing countries to achieve sustainable and green development while satisfying their peoples’ needs for economic development and a better life.

Xie said at last year’s conference in Copenhagen it was China’s efforts that helped prevent the talks breaking down completely and allowed an accord to be reached whereby developed countries agreed to positive moves over fast-start financing and technology transfer, as well as mitigation, adaptation and forestry, which were the major concerns of the developing countries.

Under the accord, rich nations pledged a fast-start climate fund of $30 billion by 2012 to help developing countries adapt to climate change. They offered an eventual goal of $100 billion by 2020.

However, Xie said that the Copenhagen process steered away from the principles of openness, transparency, broad participation and agreement based on consultations.

That is why China will insist that the Cancun talks remain open and transparent and ensure broad participation in order to achieve unanimity through consultation, Xie said.

Even before a legally binding international agreement is reached, China has taken its own concrete actions and pledged legally binding mitigation targets.

"China will not allow an unchecked increase in its carbon emissions. Instead, the country is poised to take measures so that the emissions can peak at an early stage," Xie said.

By the end of 2010, China, one of the world’s major emitters of carbon dioxide, will be close to beating its five-year target of improving energy efficiency by 20 percent, Xie said.

"As a result, China has avoided the emission of 1.5 billion tons of CO2," he added.

China has been very active in developing cooperative projects that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the adverse effect of climate change upon developing countries.

But he insisted that China will not accept any obligation beyond its ability as a developing country.

Industrialized countries must play a major role in curbing global greenhouse gas emissions as they are responsible for about 80 percent of carbon emissions currently in the atmosphere since industrialization.

"Developed countries have to take the lead in reducing their carbon emissions and make space for developing nations to prosper," he said. "Developing countries are the victims of global warming."

China is going to Cancun with all the sincerity, Xie stressed. "A positive progress at Cancun will help increase the world’s confidence in dealing with climate change."

China to build 10 GW wind farm in Xinjiang. China will build a 10.8 GW wind power farm in Hami in the far western Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in five years, a local official said Thursday.

As a matter of comparison, the installed wind energy capacity in Hami was only 100 MW last year. A 200 MW wind turbines project of China Huadian Corporation has just passed the preliminary review.

By Li Jing and Lan Lan, China Daily