China Power

China Eyes Climate Compromise

China says it expects developed nations to compromise at UN climate talks taking place in Tianjin.

Compromise: An agreement between two men to do what both agree is wrong. That was at least according to Lord Edward Cecil, a British soldier and administrator in Egypt around the turn of the last century. So he might have had some sympathy with China’s position over UN climate talks taking place in Tianjin this week—the first time China has held such talks.

According to the official Xinhua News Agency, Xie Zhenhua, Chinese vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, told the media today that:

‘The best result of the global climate talks may be a solution that dissatisfies everyone but is accepted by all…To reach the result, every party needs compromise and work to find the biggest common ground. If one country refuses to do anything and ask others to do many, this is definitely not acceptable.’

This is, of course, a dig at developed countries, and China is reportedly boycotting the discussions because developed countries listed in the Kyoto Protocol are looking to include a global target for emissions cuts instead of discussing their individual commitments, Bloomberg reported today.

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Will China end up as the villain many saw it as after the Copenhagen talks broke down last December without any meaningful agreement? Perhaps not, according to Guardian correspondent Jon Watts, who’s blogging from the talks. Watts spoke with The Diplomat a few months back about his recent book When a Billion Chinese Jump, in which he looks at the question of whether China really can be ‘green’.

Writing this week, Watts said the organisation at the Tianjin meet was in stark contrast to the frantic chaos of Copenhagen. He admits that the more intense pressure as world leaders scrambled for a deal in Denmark perhaps makes a direct comparison unfair. Still, he adds:

‘The hosts have already achieved one objective: to show that actions speak louder than words.

‘Speaker after speaker this week—Chinese academics and international environmentalists alike—have highlighted the concrete steps that the world's biggest emitter is taking to reduce its footprint…Last year, it invested $34 billion in clean energy projects, almost twice as much as the United States.’