China’s increasingly progressive approach to climate change and a growing acceptance of the science behind the threat are key factors behind better-than-expected progress in negotiations to mould a global consensus on the issue, delegates and United Nations officials said on Friday.
Many people cautioned that Beijing’s refusal to budge on developing countries’ responsibilities in cutting greenhouse gas emissions still needed to be resolved if the goal of the two-week UN conference in Bali – a clearly defined, two-year negotiating roadmap to replace the Kyoto protocol – is to be agreed by Friday.
“China has been offering very concrete, very specific ideas on how you could construct a post-2012 climate change regime, on how you could make operational all the commitments developing countries already have,” said Yvo de Boer, the head of the UN’s climate change agency. “There’s now a real realisation [within the government] that this is a problem coming to China head on.”
Mr de Boer cited financing, particularly a fund to help developing countries adapt to climate change, tariff reform and technology transfer as areas where China was engaging most constructively. These are all areas where China stands to benefit.
In the last few years China has experienced increasingly frequent and severe droughts, water shortages and floods. Officials now accept climate change is a big contributing factor.
Su Wei, a senior Chinese delegate, said: “The science is clear. We have to act now. We cannot wait.”
Emil Salim, head of the host Indonesian delegation, said his team had reported no deadlocks yet in the talks. “The political climate is good, better than in previous years and better than expected,” he said.
Negotiators say India and Brazil have not been as obstructive as feared, while the US has been more constructive than predicted.
Mr Su labelled Canada and Japan as the nations proving most unco-operative in the negotiations, particularly in their opposition to binding commitments for industrialised nations to reduce emissions.
Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the inter-governmental panel on climate change, also blamed industrialised countries’ failure to act more decisively as being the biggest impediment to a deal.
“There’s been a loss of credibility on the part of the developed world,” he said. “What’s absolutely essential is that the developed countries develop a record of action and commitment which will provide a moral basis for developing countries to also act.”