China, EU in pledge to get Paris climate deal

2015-06-15 22:10
 Li Keqiang (Picture: AFP)

Li Keqiang (Picture: AFP)

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Brussels - China, the world's biggest polluter, will sign a joint pledge with the European Union this month to seek a UN agreement to tackle climate change as one of "the greatest threats facing humanity," according to a draft statement seen by Reuters.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will endorse the statement at a June 29 summit in Brussels with EU leaders, who are seeking to ratchet up the pressure for a deal at the Paris climate conference late this year, EU officials said.

"The EU and China recognise their critical roles in combating global climate change, one of the greatest threats facing humanity," the draft final summit communique said.

"The seriousness of the challenge calls upon the two sides to work constructively together for the common good in the context of sustainable economic and social development," the statement said.

While couched in diplomatic language, the fact that Beijing is willing to subscribe to such a document may help build momentum for the Paris conference.

Major emitters are hoping to avoid a repeat of the failed Copenhagen UN summit in 2009, the last attempt to reach a global climate deal, which foundered partly due to Chinese and US reluctance to make binding commitments.

China's greater enthusiasm for a deal in Paris contrasts with the run-up to Copenhagen, when it resisted calls for any international system for monitoring curbs on emissions.

It is happier with the outline of a Paris deal, under which promised emissions cuts are likely to be overseen by national laws, rather than by any international supervision.

China has always sought special consideration on the grounds that it should be allowed to develop its economy as Western countries did in the 20th century.

But increasingly it acknowledges the need to grow in a sustainable way and has sought to confront domestic pollution, which has led to outbreaks of social unrest.

Set target

Premier Li said last week that China sets itself a target of peak carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 or sooner if possible.

Other elements of the EU-China summit draft include a promise to step up cooperation on carbon markets in which industry trades in a limited number of permits to emit CO2.

China has already sought guidance from the European Commission in setting up pilot emissions markets, modelled on the evolving EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and says it is well on the way to rolling out a national ETS.

Aviation emissions within the European Union require ETS permits, but efforts to expand the arrangement to international aviation caused an outcry, with China among those most critical of what it said was an attack on its sovereignty. That forced the EU to back down.

Now the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN body, is working on a global scheme to regulate aviation emissions.

In the joint statement, the EU and China will call for "a timely agreement in ICAO on a global market-based measure in 2016". They also called for progress at the International Maritime Organization in curbing emissions by shipping.

Read more on:    li keqiang  |  paris  |  climate change

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