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CLIMATE ACTION PROGRAMME

1 December 2010

US and China begin climate talks on a positive note

The tense relationship between the US and China showed signs of thawing on Monday when climate talks involving the two parties began in Cancun, Mexico, showed signs that progress had been made, claims the US.

"We have spent a lot of energy in the past month working on those issues where we disagree and trying to resolve them," said Jonathan Pershing, the US Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change and lead U.S. negotiator, speaking to Reuters on Tuesday. "My sense is that we have made progress...It remains to be seen how this meeting comes out," Pershing added.

Though Pershing sounded optimistic, China's chief delegate Su Wei, Chinese Director General of the Department of Climate Change, National Development and Reform Commission, was more circumspect.

"We've had a very candid, very open dialogue with our U.S. friends and I think both the U.S. and China would very much like to see a good outcome at Cancun," he told Reuters.

There have been several disputes between the two nations on how to deal with climate change, each accusing the other of doing little to tackle global warming in 2010. As the world's largest GHG emitter, China has been heavily criticised by the US for its efforts to cut emissions.

There are suggestions the US would ally with India at the 16th Conference of Parties (COP16) to pressure China to cut their growing carbon emissions. In part this suggestion stemmed from India's offer at the Major Economies Forum in Washington, in which they made an international consultation and analysis (ICA) proposal.

The ICA is a global system for monitoring the efforts that developing countries make to counter climate change. At the meeting, in which China was present, the US welcomed the suggestion.

Over the past few years China has been progressively stepping-up its environmental efforts, developing its renewable energy sector and promising to cut its carbon levels. Earlier this month the Chinese government revealed its five-year climate plan, to run from 2011 to 2015, which included plans to create a carbon market trading scheme.

The Chinese government also announced in a statement that the five-year plan will include targets on reducing carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption.

Like the US, China has reaffirmed its commitment to the targets announced at last year's Copenhagen Climate Summit, where they agreed to cut the country's carbon intensity by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020 compared with 2005.

However, if progress is not made in Cancun between the delegates at COP16 or at next year's talks in Durban, South Africa, many will question whether the future of climate change talks, especially with the Kyoto Protocol set to expire in 2012.

Author: Leroy Robinson | Climate Action

Image: linh.m.do | Flickr

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