Sino-US climate talks helpful, but too late for Copenhagen: Experts

These views were expressed on the eve of US President Barack Obama's China visit Nov 15-18 where climate change is expected to figure on the agenda between Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, Xinhua news agency quoted these experts as saying.

"The world's two largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters will reiterate their own stances on combating global warming, which is good for long-term global talks," said Qi Ye, a climate policy expert from Tsinghua University.
"But I don't think China and the US will agree a deal on targets for emissions' reductions during Obama's visit. Neither do I believe any deal with specific targets will come from the Copenhagen talks," he added.

Leaders from about 190 countries will attend the 15th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from Dec 7 to 18 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The meeting is expected to renew GHG emissions' reduction targets set by the UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol, which is to expire in 2012.
The Kyoto Protocol, never ratified by the US, has binding targets for 37 developed countries for reducing the GHG emissions. Developing countries are not obliged to accept any target.

"China has strictly obeyed the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, and has also been making huge efforts to fight global warming," Qi said.
The Chinese president had promised September at a UN climate summit in New York that his country would be cutting CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by "a notable margin" by 2020 from the 2005-levels.

Obama has said he wants to cut emissions from US back to 1990-levels by 2020 and 80 percent further by 2050, but the US Congress is yet to pass such a legislation.
Robert Stavins, director of the Harvard Project on International Climate Agreements, said the meeting of Hu and Obama would certainly facilitate mutual understanding on climate change issues.

China and the US signed a memorandum of understanding encouraging the cooperation on climate change and cleaner energy in July.
But it appeared that US Congress was unlikely to complete the legislation by the time of Copenhagen summit due to great political challenges in the midst of a recession with high unemployment and other domestic priorities, Stavins said in an e-mail interview.

"There have been dramatic changes in the political climate for climate change policy in the US since President Obama took office. The timing, however, is difficult for Copenhagen," Stavins said.

US top negotiator Jonathan Pershing said in October that it would be difficult to pledge an emission control target without the Congress legislation.
With the commitments from the world's largest economy, which is far from being certain, and other key issues unresolved after two years of talks, a new pact to combat global warming is a forlorn hope for Copenhagen, experts said.
The last negotiations before the Copenhagen conference concluded Nov 6 in Barcelona, Spain.

UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo de Boer said there that little progress had been made on developed countries' targets for mid-term emissions' reduction and financing for developing countries to limit their emissions and adapt to climate change effects.

Back in 2007, the UNFCCC had outlined four aspects of coordinated efforts: climate change mitigation, adaptation, financing and technology support. The 2007 declaration in Bali, Indonesia, was set to propose a "road map" for forging a new treaty in Copenhagen.

"It takes time to agree a new treaty. At least all countries will fully express their willingness to make efforts in December. First it has to be certain that the Copenhagen talks won't collapse," Qi said.

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