EXCLUSIVE: While President Obama challenged China at the United Nations to follow the U.S. lead in pushing for drastic reductions in national carbon emissions to save the planet from “climate change,” it appears that China has dramatically different ideas. As in: no.
According to a document deposited at the Geneva-based U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in advance of a planned meeting next month, China -- now the world’s largest source of greenhouse gases -- insists that the U.S. and other developed countries endure most of the economic pain of carbon emission cutbacks, and need to make significantly more sacrifices in the months ahead.
Carbon emission cutbacks by China and other developing countries, the document says, will be “dependent on the adequate finance and technology support provided by developed country parties” to any new climate accord.
In other words, only if Western nations pay for it.
More specifically, only if Western taxpayers ante up. Among other things, the Chinese communist regime insists that the incentive payments it demands must come from “new, additional, adequate, predictable and sustained public funds" -- rather than mostly private financing, as the U.S. hopes.
In addition, the Chinese state:
-- A promised $100 billion in annual climate financing that Western nations have already pledged to developing countries for carbon emission control and other actions by 2020 is only the "starting point" for additional Western financial commitments that must be laid out in a "clear road map," which includes "specific targets, timelines and identified sources;"
--In the longer run, developed countries should be committing “at least 1 percent” of their Gross Domestic Product — much more than they spend on easing global poverty” into a U.N.-administered Green Carbon Fund to pay for the developing country changes;
--In the meantime, the $100 billion pledge to the same fund should be reached by $10 billion increments, starting from a $40 billion floor this year;
--Western countries also need to remove “obstacles such as IPRs [intellectual property rights]” to “promote, facilitate and finance the transfer” of “technologies and know-how” to developing countries in advance of any future climate deal;
The Chinese submission is part of the paperwork submitted by a variety of nations in advance of negotiations on a new global climate treaty, which is slated to be unveiled at a grand climate summit meeting in Paris at the end of 2015. This week’s ballyhooed climate summit in New York City was intended to kick-start the diplomatic process that will wend toward the Paris finale.
The Paris 2015 treaty is supposed to replace the tattered Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2020, and which the U.S. never ratified — in large measure because huge greenhouse emitters like China and India were given a pass from most of its strictures.
Since then, countries like Canada and Russia have left the protocol, and others, like Japan, have declined to tighten the screws further on carbon emissions in a time of faltering economic growth.
But while President Obama was telling the summit attendees in New York that “nobody can stand on the sidelines on this issue,” and advising world leaders that he had told China’s top delegate at their meeting that “we have a special responsibility to lead,” China has staked out its much tougher position in a nine-page position paper drearily titled, “Submission on the Work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.”
The working group, part of the UNFCCC process, is pulling together international positions to develop a consensus starting point for the Paris treaty negotiations, which will supposedly be unveiled at a meeting in Lima, Peru, in December. The Chinese paper, however, went to an earlier preparatory meeting slated to begin in Bonn on October 25.
According to the Chinese, all of the additional Western action is necessary because developing countries have already done their part at greenhouse gas cutbacks—or, as the position paper has it, in typical U.N. climate-speak, “have already communicated and implemented ambitious nationally appropriate mitigation actions.”
Indeed, the paper continues, “Their contribution to global mitigation efforts is far greater than that by developed countries.”
That conclusion appears to largely draw on the fact that China believes that Western countries are “responsible for the current and future concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere because of their historical, current and future emissions,” while “developing countries have the right to equitable development opportunities and sustainable development.”
That was largely the logic behind the faltering Kyoto Protocol, in which China pledged only to reduce the “carbon intensity”—the relative greenhouse gas efficiency-- of its industrialization, without any effort at actual cutbacks.
Optimists now believe that China will move in the new round of climate negotiations toward an actual trajectory of cutbacks, but there is no sign of that ambition in the current position paper.
In fact, the paper argues that any new agreement should “be based and built” on the structures of the old Kyoto deal, with “developed country Parties taking the lead in greenhouse gas emission reduction.”
There is perhaps one major exception: “Commitments by developed country Parties [to the new treaty] on providing finance, technology and capacity-building support to developing country Parties shall be of the same legal bindingness as their mitigation commitments.”
In other words: pay-as-you-go on “climate change” means that so far as China is concerned, the U.S. and other advanced countries should do all the paying, and most of the going.