Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Copenhagen: "Neither a lender nor a borrower be"

I have kept my Copenhagen coverage to a minimum given that I have covered these issues throughout the year.

However, it is interesting to note the recent spat between the US and China. First, or was it second, we have the US saying that they will not give money to China to combat climate change and then we have China saying that they do not want any money anyway or did they say they didn't want it first.

It could be argued that this is just both countries playing to their domestic audience as part of the negotiations but it marks a significant change in China's stance. China is still very poor in terms of GDP per head but it has grown up fast and is not prepared to flex its muscles on the international stage.

I am impressed by China's position. It shows China makes a major concession and yet appearing more powerful on the international stage. Top marks.

The arguments have been rehearsed in many other articles but the fact remains:

1. Developed nations caused the current high CO2 levels
2. Developing countries will suffer the most from climate change
3. Developing countries have the same right to grow and to develop as the West did
4. Developing country pollution levels are increasing rapidly (due to the scale effect).
5. A proportion of the pollution in developing countries is caused by Western multinational companies producing to export back to the West or domestic firms producing to satify the consumerism of the West.

Any solution will be very difficult to find. The environmental problems in China are severe. China is acting and acting quickly in terms of regulation and enforcement but a lot remains to be done.

The world needs an agreement but I have very low expectations.

China signals climate funds shift [FT]

China signalled on Sunday that it had abandoned its demand for funding from the developed world to combat climate change, the first apparent concession by one of the major players at the Copenhagen climate talks.

However, in the same interview with the Financial Times, the most senior Chinese negotiator accused rich countries of preparing to blame a failure at Copenhagen on Beijing.

As the talks entered their critical final week, He Yafei, Chinese vice-foreign minister, said financing from rich countries should be directed to poorer countries.

“Financial resources for the efforts of developing countries [to combat climate change are] a legal obligation,” he said. “That does not mean China will take a share – probably not.

“We do not expect money will flow from the US, UK [and others] to China.”

China has committed itself to cut emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40-45 per cent by 2020 but had demanded financing from the developed world to take further steps to tackle climate change.