China has always attached great importance to climate change and other countries should make more efforts to jointly protect the earth, Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo said in L’Aquila, Italy on Thursday.
Taking over for President Hu Jintao at the G8+5 summit, Councilor Dai made these points in a speech during the Major Economies Forum (MEF) on energy security and climate change. The MEF brings together 17 of the world’s highest pollutant-emitting countries including China, the US, Britain, Japan, and Australia, among others.
But even as he urged cooperation and recognized the importance of working together to fight against climate change, Dai covered China’s assets, telling developed countries to take the lead in reducing emissions to honor their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and issuing warnings on some other points as well.
The developed countries should also set a medium-term emission reduction target after 2012, when the first commitment period expires…
He expressed the hope that all parties concerned, especially the developed countries, will support a proposal by the Group of 77 and China in Bali in 2007, which called on the developed countries to take concrete actions to help the developing countries fight climate change by providing them with funds and technology.
No countries should resort to any forms of protectionism under the excuse of tackling climate change and developing low-carbon economy, Dai said.
China wasn’t the only country on the defensive though; as Politico noted, the President of the world’s second biggest polluter scrambled to do some “asset covering” of his own at the summit:
“I know that in the past, the United States has sometimes fallen short of meeting our responsibilities. So, let me be clear: Those days are over,” he said, speaking to reporters just after the Major Economies Forum meeting wrapped up. “One of my highest priorities as president is to drive a clean energy transformation of our economy, and over the past six months, the United States has taken steps towards this goal.”
Obama also tried to accentuate the positive by noting other climate-change developments, such as an agreement to seek to limit global warming to no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit—a level beyond which scientists predict particularly severe impacts on weather, coastlines and agriculture.
When it came down to actually making some headway on environmental issues, the forum broke down when China and India opposed creating a firm emissions reduction target.
According to Reuters, the two wanted to see rich nations commit to making deep cuts in their own emissions by 2020 first, as well as provide financing to developing nations for dealing with floods, heatwaves and all the other natural disasters tied to global warming.
Because of their complaints, a proposal in an MEF draft to halve emissions by 2050 was dropped, dealing a severe blow to the United Nations’ efforts to secure a new climate pact by December.
Still, at least everyone agreed that climate change was happening for the first time, acknowledging the scientific consensus that average global temperatures should not rise 3.6 degrees above the levels of more than a century ago. They also promised to take verifiable steps to cut carbon emissions and cooperate on funding research to develop clean-energy technologies, according to the Washington Post.
So in the end, was anything really accomplished at the forum that might affect us? We like the 2 degree agreement, but the lack of concrete goals means that it will be a while before we can expect any real results.