Beijing blames rich nations as climate summit ends with modest deal

Warsaw summit concludes with modest deal as Beijing blames developed countries and Washington accuses China of reneging on old agreements

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 November, 2013, 4:45am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 November, 2013, 5:56am

China has blasted developed countries for lacking the "political will" to cut carbon emissions and keeping their promises to transfer technology and funds to developing countries as UN climate talks concluded in Warsaw.

The two-week negotiations concluded on Saturday, more than a day behind schedule, with only a modest deal. More than 190 countries agreed to start preparing "contributions" to cut greenhouse gases for a post-2020 climate regime, which is supposed to be adopted in 2015.

The term "contributions" was adopted after China and India objected to the word "commitments" in a stand-off with the United States and other developed countries.

The head of the Chinese delegation, Xie Zhenhua , described the outcome as merely "acceptable" and that there were "many issues we're actually not satisfied with".

"Despite the mounting challenges posed by climate change, some developed countries still lack the political will to honour their commitments on emission cuts and offering technology and funding to developing countries to tackle the challenges," Xie said.

US chief negotiator Todd Stern said remarks by the Chinese delegation made him feel like he was "going back into a time warp". He accused Beijing of going back on a deal that the post-2020 regime should apply to all parties by saying in the final hours of talks that only developed nations should make binding reduction commitments.

The clashes show that China, now the world's biggest carbon emitter, is still unwilling to be tied to the same emission-reduction obligations as industrialised nations, stressing that the country is still in development.

Green groups warned that the watered-down term "contribution" could dampen the global carbon-cutting goals needed to prevent average global temperature rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. Climate scientists warn such an increase would unleash unstoppable climate change.

"The agreed text is a small step forward, but it lays a rather shaky foundation, as China still does not want [to dismantle] the 'firewall' between developing and developed countries," said Li Shuo , a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace East Asia.

The last-minute face-off was somewhat of a departure for China's more proactive approach in pushing for progress during the two-week talks.

He said backtracking by some rich countries over their carbon reduction targets had already "cast a shadow" over future talks, according to state media.

Commenting on Japan's decision to abandon its previously agreed targets to reduce carbon emissions following the Fukushima nuclear crisis, chief Chinese negotiator Su Wei said: "I don't have any words to describe my dismay [with Japan]."

Li said that China had yet to show genuine leadership.

"China's domestic policy on limiting coal use to fight air pollution has put the country in a better place in the climate talks, but it still has yet to transfer the domestic decision into more political will internationally," Li said.