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China `Outperformed' on Effort to Curb Climate Change, UN Diplomat Says
China has stepped up its efforts to rein in global warming by implementing rules that will cap emissions of greenhouse gasses from its domestic industry, the chief climate negotiator for the United Nations said.
“They have actually not just performed to the level of their target, but they have outperformed,” Christiana Figueres, the UN diplomat leading climate negotiations, said in a webcast press conference from Bonn.
Figueres said she is “optimistic” that the annual climate talks beginning Nov. 29 in the Mexican resort city of Cancun can reach an agreement. Her comments were aimed at boosting momentum for the discussions involving more than 190 nations after last year’s effort in Copenhagen stalled.
U.S. diplomats have said China is backtracking on plans sketched out last year in Copenhagen to slow global warming. China, the world’s biggest polluter, has said it’s not ready to make a legally binding commitment to reduce fossil fuel emissions blamed for damaging the atmosphere.
Disputes between the U.S. and China in three rounds of technical discussions about the talks this year have reduced expectations for what the meeting in Cancun will accomplish. Figueres reiterated that her aim isn’t a treaty that would add to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set out emissions caps for rich nations. She is instead targeting progress on some issues.
“It is unrealistic to expect governments to move in one big step toward a legally binding treaty,” she said, naming China as one of the countries that has done the most.
China installed a third of all wind-power turbines last year, doubling its capacity to 25 gigawatts, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. It plans to have 90 gigawatts of wind power and 5 gigawatts of solar energy by 2015, limiting its reliance on coal, oil and gas, which currently account for 86 percent of its energy consumption.
U.S. elections on Nov. 2 reduced the command that President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party had in Congress, hurting chances for legislation that would limit carbon dioxide emissions.
“The world is looking for answers,” Figueres said. “Cancun has to be the next essential step. There is a deal to be done. Cancun will be a success if parties compromise. That’s how multilateral agreements are made elsewhere, and it can happen in Cancun, too. I am not going to underestimate the political gaps that need to be bridged.”
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Todd White in Madrid at firstname.lastname@example.org