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Cover Stories Series 2011
UPDATED: December 7, 2011
Signs of Hope Seen at Durban Talks

The high-level segment of the climate change conference started on Tuesday, with focus on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol as well as the creation of a Green Climate Fund. China's openness to a legally binding climate deal has given a boost to the ongoing climate change talks.

Big hurdles remain in Durban's final week, but with China agreeing to discuss binding post-2020 emissions cuts, there are finally signs of forward movement.

Xie Zhenhua, head of Chinese delegation, said, "After 2020, what we need to negotiate is a framework that I think should be legally binding."

Xie laid out several preconditions for a legal framework, including an extension of the Kyoto commitments for industrial countries, honoring commitments on immediate and long-term financial aid to poor countries, and delivery of promised new technologies to develop low carbon economies.

The United States, meanwhile, has issued no objection to a post-2020 treaty, so long as it treats everyone equally.

Todd Stern, special envoy on climate change, said, "So, in order for there to be a legally binding agreement that makes sense, all the major players are going to have to be in with obligations, with commitments that have the same legal force."

As the world's second largest economy and the biggest developing country, China occupies a unique position. It wants a comprehensive and balanced pact that is based on equality and reflects common but differentiated responsibilities.

So far, China has been leading in clean technology development, with wind power playing a central role.

And the country has promised to reduce its energy consumption by 16 percent per unit of GDP by 2015.

With less than a week left for the talks, the pressure is really on, but as sea ice continues to melt, the time for global action on the climate is quickly running out as well.

(CNTV.cn December 6, 2011)

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