European Union: China Should Show More Interest in Climate

Written by | Friday, April 25th, 2014

EU Climate Change Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, has expressed the view that China should start taking more initiatives in global climate change negotiations. During her official visit to the country earlier this week, she urged that Beijing should demonstrate more domestic commitment to fight the global environmental problems also on the global stage. Commissioner Hedegaard’s stay in China comes in the run-up to the upcoming UN meeting on climate that will take place in Bonn in June. Negotiators from about 190 countries will participate to discuss ongoing and future efforts to finally come up with an international climate treaty.
Ms. Hedegaard expressed her surprise by the way in which China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas-producer, is committed to battle environmental problems mainly by cutting its own pollutants and climate-changing emissions. The Commissioner moreover encouraged Beijing not to change its stance during talks with the United Nations. Ms. Hedegaard would rather hope that China’s domestic focus could be eventually translated into a strong international position because this could potentially change the rules of the game globally.
By 2020, Beijing has promised to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions per unit of its gross domestic product (GDP) by 40 percent, as compared to 2005 levels. In a struggle to meet this goal, China has already launched six domestic carbon trading markets and designated billions of dollars for renewable and nuclear energy and efficiency projects. Yet, the Chinese leadership is not willing to take more ambitious green initiatives out of the fear of international binding. Other major greenhouse gas producers, the United States, Japan, or Canada, claim they will not accept any climate targets unless China does the same.
Last month, Beijing asked – in a paper that it handed in to the UN climate change secretariat – that all industrialized economies increase “unconditionally” their emission targets from above current levels. As the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change summarized the main point, countries must choose whether they want to cut greenhouse emissions or risk even more natural disasters such as rising sea levels, droughts, heat waves, or floods.

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