Todd Stern, President Barack Obama’s special envoy on climate change, tried to sound optimistic when the US delegation ended its China visit but could hardly conceal that little had been achieved. Mr Stern, who before leaving for China had said, “Let’s get this damn thing started [between the US and China]“, did his best to paper over the lack of progress. “In our meetings, we deepened our dialogue with our Chinese counterparts through a candid discussion of the challenges we must overcome and the opportunities we must seize if we and the world are to reach an international climate agreement,” the US delegation said in a leaving statement.
“These meetings were a step in the right direction on the road to Copenhagen and to charting a global path to a clean energy future,” the Americans added.
Chinese officials maintained that the two countries should have a “common but differentiated approach” – code for Beijing’s reluctance to adopt a formal domestic mandate to reduce its carbon emissions. The US Congress is considering a bill that would reduce US emissions to 83 per cent of 2005 levels by 2020. China wants the US to cut its emissions to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 – a different order of magnitude. It also wants the US to pledge up to 1 per cent of its gross domestic product to pay for clean technology in China and elsewhere.
Tags: international climate agreement