China buoys climate talks with "binding" target

Mon Dec 6, 2010 6:55pm EST
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By Chris Buckley and Russell Blinch

CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - China on Monday offered for the first time to submit its voluntary carbon emissions target to a binding U.N. resolution, buoying climate talks where Bolivia accused rich world policies of causing "genocide."

China's target would still be voluntary, stressed China's chief negotiator Xie Zhenhua, a distinction from developed nation targets under Kyoto: "Developing countries can ... make their own voluntary emissions commitments and these should be under the Convention."

The November 29-December 10 talks in Mexico's Cancun beach resort are split over how to harden existing pledges made at last year's Copenhagen summit, which ended in a brief, non-binding agreement.

China's offer to make its existing, domestic pledge to slow growth in carbon emissions binding under a U.N. resolution is a compromise it hopes will encourage developed countries to continue the existing Kyoto Protocol.

"We can create a resolution and that resolution can be binding on China," said Huang Huikang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's envoy for climate change talks.

"Under the (U.N. Climate) Convention, we can even have a legally binding decision. We can discuss the specific form. We can make our efforts a part of international efforts."

"We're willing to compromise, we're willing to play a positive and constructive role, but on this issue (Kyoto) there's no room for compromise."

Developing nations want to continue the first, 2008-2012 round of Kyoto, which binds the emissions of nearly 40 developed countries, while industrialized backers including Japan, Russia and Canada want a separate agreement regulating all nations.   Continued...

<p>Activists from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) light candles representing the earth as they demonstrate, calling for a catch up plan to prevent climate change, on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference COP16 in Cancun December 5, 2010. The conference in Cancun have far lower ambitions than last year's Copenhagen summit, which fell short of an all-encompassing deal to help slow floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising sea levels. REUTERS/Gerardo Garcia</p>