Published November 17, 2014
BEIJING — Participants in next week's U.N. climate conference in Mexico need to agree on financing and technology transfer arrangements to help developing nations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, China's climate envoy said Tuesday.
Xie Zhenhua said a deal would be key to winning the support of developing nations for a binding agreement on carbon emission reductions to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol due to expire in 2012, Xie Zhenhua told reporters in Beijing.
"What is particularly important is that we need to move toward a substantive outcome on financing and technology transfer, issues developing countries watch most closely, so that we can lay a rock solid foundation for reaching a legally binding outcome in South Africa next year," Xie said, referring to the host of next year's annual conference.
Under an arrangement reached at last year's conference in Copenhagen, rich nations had pledged to give developing countries $30 billion over three years to deal with mitigating and adapting to climate change, with an eventual goal of $100 billion by 2020.
Countries are also looking to agree on more elements of a complex plan to pay developing countries for protecting their forests, and on making it easier for poorer nations to obtain patented technologies from the industrialized world for clean energy and climate adaptation.
Those could be the conference's more attainable goals, with the U.S. and China, the world's two largest carbon emitters, still at loggerheads over key components of a new international climate treaty.
The U.S. wants China and other developing countries to commit to mandatory curbs and submit to international verification. Meanwhile, China says the U.S. and other wealthy countries should make bigger cuts in their emissions, reflecting their larger historical contribution to greenhouse gases.
Negotiators had targeted last year's climate summit in the Danish capital, attended by some 100 world leaders, for agreement on mandatory reductions in global warming gases. But the talks were unsuccessful, producing only the Copenhagen Accord, a nonbinding political agreement with pledges of voluntary reductions.
China and other emerging economies exempted from the Kyoto pact have sharply increased emissions in recent years, while rejecting calls to commit by treaty to restraints.
However, China has voluntarily committed to cut power consumed per unit of economic output — a measure known as "energy intensity" — by 20 percent from 2006 levels by the end of the year. While there has been no independent verification, Xie said that goal was within reach with the closure of thousands of heavily polluting factories.
In the longer term, China has set a target of reducing energy intensity by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels, while also increasing the share of energy produced by renewable sources to 15 percent and expanding forest cover.