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UPDATED: December 7, 2012 NO. 50 DECEMBER 13, 2012
Seeking a Climate Solution
China plays a responsible role in coping with climate change
By Yu Shujun

CLIMATE CONVENTION: Delegates from around the world attend the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha on November 26 (CFP)

Tit-for-tat negotiations at this year's UN Climate Change Conference recently concluded in Doha, Qatar, effectively reminded people about the Doha round of WTO talks; but unlike the fruitless trade talks, climate talks have a common ground of tackling humankind's biggest threat—climate change.

"Ambition" and "finance" are always the key words at climate talks. So it was in Doha. Developing countries urged developed countries to be more ambitious in emission reduction targets and assist them in finance, technology transfer and capacity building. Developed countries, on the other hand, called for equal participation over the long term.

As the largest developing economy, China sometimes is stuck in the middle. Some developed countries want to put binding targets on China, because it has become a major greenhouse gas emitter. However, the world's second largest economy still has to lift 100 million people out of poverty.

"Even without the binding treaty, China is making a lot of efforts," said Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, at a press conference in Doha on November 4.

Just before the Doha climate conference, ecological progress became an integral part of China's future development plan, together with economic, political, cultural and social progresses, in the then Party General Secretary Hu Jintao's report to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

China has already taken a lead in tackling climate change as a responsible developing country, said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Striking a balance

"We've always maintained hope that the parties can achieve a balanced result that takes care of the common interests of humankind and addresses the realities and needs of different countries," said Xie Zhenhua, Vice Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and head of the Chinese delegation to the UN climate conference.

The realities and needs of those different countries are precisely what heated up the negotiations in Doha.

What developing countries need most is the support from developed countries, especially financial support, which was the most controversial issue at the Doha climate talks.

The Copenhagen Accord in 2009 stated the collective commitment of developed countries to provide developing countries with the fast-start fund of $30 billion from 2010 to 2012 and also introduced the idea that developed countries will jointly mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020 for developing countries.

The fast-start fund comes to an end and the long-term fund of $100 billion per year from 2013 to 2020 is still up in the air. Questions surrounding the funds have since arisen, touching on the transparency of the fast-start fund, whether the money has been paid, how it has been used, and when the long-term fund will be paid.

Todd Stern, U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change, said that the overall amount for the donor countries is $30.6 billion, with around $7.5 billion from the United States.

But there is discrepancy in the exact totals. Xie said he heard about three figures: more than $30 billion, similar to the U.S. version, $26.3 billion and $13 billion, respectively.

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