中国与世界,环境危机大家谈

china and the world discuss the environment

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Time for a plan

Qin Xuan

Readinch

Months of friendly discussion between China and the west went up in smoke at Copenhagen. Qin Xuan argues that a new diplomacy is needed to avoid a repeat performance.

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The most valuable lesson to be learned from the climate change conference in Copenhagen is this: the aims of global governance are unlikely to be met while the diplomatic strategies of China and emerging economies remain unsettled.

Unlike World Trade Organisation talks, the aim of climate negotiations is not only bilateral or multilateral deals between individual governments, but also direct participation in global action. The outcome of the meeting is a marker of the United Nations' ability to handle global climate governance. But the Copenhagen talks failed to reach consensus, even on matters of principle. Some of the nations involved in the process have decisive influence, but are not yet clear on what their own targets and role in international affairs actually are.

After Copenhagen, opinion in the European Union and United States quickly turned against China. A report by British journalist Mark Lynas in the Guardian newspaper claiming China had wrecked the conference and a similar article by UK climate change secretary Ed Miliband caused an outcry in China. In response to these international misgivings, the country’s official news agency Xinhua published the inside story of premier Wen Jiabao’s experiences during his 60 hours at the conference.

To understand the fierce response from China, we need to look back at the diplomatic programme the country engaged in with both the United States and European Union in the year-long run-up to Copenhagen. A strong basis of trust appeared to have been built up with both America and Europe through diplomatic activity under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) and the National People’s Congress. This makes the problems at Copenhagen all the more surprising.

At the start of 2009, during the early days of president Barack Obama’s administration, US think-tanks the Brookings Institution and the Asia Society proposed a “Group of Two” (G2) relationship between China and the United States. The G2 framework would operate outside of the United Nations; the two countries would establish standards, which would subsequently be widened to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), then the European Union and, finally, other developing nations.

Hillary Clinton visited China to lobby for closer cooperation between the two countries, and the State Council became the channel for establishing a new relationship between the White House and China. The G2 idea was not embraced but China and the United States did engage in cooperative discussion on energy and the environment. Some academics privately say they believe China hopes to use such partnerships with the United States to win support for adjustments to China’s economic and energy structure.

US climate change envoy Todd Stern paid a number of visits to China in 2009. In May, speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi also paid a rare visit to China, and several months later Wu Bangguo, head of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, visited the United States and met with representatives of the Senate energy panel.

While China was talking to the United States, it was also engaging in brisk diplomacy with the United Kingdom and European Union. Former British prime minister Tony Blair paid a number of visits to China at the invitation of the CPIFA, witnessing the efforts being made to reduce emissions in undeveloped regions such as Guizhou in the south-west and Ningxia in the north. Blair’s comments on his return, combined with Ed Miliband’s optimistic predictions on China’s stance in the run-up to Copenhagen, give us reason to believe that the European Union was, at least prior to the release of emissions targets, supportive of China’s efforts.

China’s diplomacy with the other countries in the “BASIC” group – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – is also worthy of note. Over the space of more than a year, these four nations have met after every set of climate change negotiations in a bid to maintain a consensus.

So what happened at Copenhagen? A Xinhua article published on December 25th asserts that Wen was excluded from various “clandestine negotiations”, including a meeting of several countries’ leaders held by the United States after dinner on the 17th, which “triggered strong discontent”.

Wen did not attend the meetings of national leaders on the morning or afternoon of December 18. In the morning, vice minister of foreign affairs, He Yafei, attended in his place. And, after a meeting with US president Obama at noon, Yu Qingtai – deputy head of the delegation and a lower level official – took part in the discussions. This provoked speculation and debate and the content of the Xinhua article explains why China was unhappy with closed-door meetings. But, if the article is accurate, it may be worth asking why trust between China and the United States and European Union was so weak that they were unable to work together after a full year of discussion.

During the first week of the conference, the Group of 77 (G77), a loose coalition of 130 developing countries, including China, reached a consensus over three evenings of talks – something rarely seen in recent years. The value of maintaining that consensus lay in upholding the principle of a two-track negotiation system, stressing the classification of nations as developing or developed and finding a new agreement based on “common but differentiated responsibilities”. If lines had instead been drawn between major economic groups and poor nations, the game would have become one played between the Group of 20 (G20) major economies and certain developing nations – and the logical result of that would have been, at the very least, some changes to the two-track system.

But, at the end of the conference, a split appeared between the least developed nations and the major developing economies of the G77 – to an extent this was inevitable given the shifting global order. This change in alignments most affects the BASIC nations, because they are both members of the G20 and developing nations. If the principle is accepted that major economies should take on bigger duties in regard to cutting carbon emissions, there will then be no difference between the BASIC group and developed countries.

I returned from Copenhagen on the same flight as the Chinese delegation. Having spoken to its members, I believe the next UN climate change meeting in Mexico may help to strengthen relations between the BASIC nations, the G77 and China. But the crucial factor in this is whether or not the promised EU and US aid appears.

Zhang Haibin, a specialist in environmental diplomacy at Peking University, believes China faces a number of difficult issues in the wake of Copenhagen. First, he says, the international pressure on China is continuing to grow, and its status as a developing nation becoming less clear. China believes its emissions targets are very ambitious, but the international response to these has not been what it hoped for. China is a major emitter and an economic power; the world’s expectations are increasing, as are China’s responsibilities.

Second, developed nations are becoming more closely aligned, while developing nations are diverging. Maintaining unity within the developing world is an increasingly difficult task. Third, China finds itself at the centre stage of the international community and at the heart of the conflict. Its room for manoeuvre is shrinking and its diplomatic policies and strategies facing ever greater challenges.

Fourth, doubts have been raised over the United Nations’ role in nuclear non-proliferation, global finance and climate change – a major challenge to China’s multilateral diplomacy.

Solving these issues will mean changes to China’s diplomatic strategy. These changes will be determined by two factors. At the international level, China needs to adjust its stance in step with other interest groups – and Copenhagen may promote this. Domestically, China’s leaders need to analyse and coordinate different interests in order to further stabilise domestic policy.

Ultimately, I believe that China should form a twenty-first-century diplomatic strategy to deal with climate change. At the core of this strategy will be this question: what costs is China willing to bear to meet regional and global diplomatic responsibilities?

Until those strategic changes have been made, it is hard to imagine there will be any progress in climate-change negotiations.


Qin Xuan is a reporter at
Southern Metropolis Daily.

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这还不单是外交战略的问题

对于中国在气候变化谈判中的决定因素,还不光是外交战略的问题,也包括中国的经济,能源战略。单纯走外交路线团结发展中国家集团并不能从根本上解决中国在谈判中处在的尴尬的位置。

另外,文章有两点需要更正。美国是UNFCCC的签署国,另外斯特恩是美国气候特使,并不是助理。

This is not only a question of diplomacy

The reasons for China's decision in the climate change negotiations are not only questions of diplomacy, but also include China's economic and energy strategy. Purely to go down the diplomatic route to unify the group of developing countries cannot fundamentally solve China's embarrassing position at the negotiations.

In addition, the article makes two points that require correction.
1.) The US is a signatory to UNFCCC
2.) Stern is an American climate special envoy, not an assistant.
(Translated by Matthew Bailey)


中国必须改进作风

假設促成中国大部分成长(和污染)的东西方国家看重气候变化问题的话,它们会减少对高碳商品的消费。由於世界工厂的中国提供大部分此类商品,未来中国必须要证明出口货物与别国的同类商品比起来,对环境没有很大危害并符合法律标准。此该是中国国际战略的核心,值得称赞的是,中国出口市场愈来愈如此。事关重大。由James.ls翻譯

China needs to clean up its act

If the Eastern and Western nations which have contributed to much of China's growth (and pollution) took Climate Change seriously, they would reduce their consumption of products having a carbon intensive life-cycle.
Necessarily, given that China - as workshop of the world - supplies most of those products, China will have to demonstrate that its exports are less damaging to the environment (and more legally compliant) than the same products made elsewhere. This should be at the core of China's international strategy - as it is increasingly and commendably in China's export markets. Much is at stake.


肯吴

美国对全球变暖问题的立场,侵犯了人们追求更好地生活的基本人权,这使得某个阶级拥有了排放温室气体的特权。该法案要求联合国进行碳税管理,并在国际经济结构的基础上创造一个负评价机制,以创造一个稳定的体系。反中国的评论是不当的,是种族歧视的,是不符合逻辑的,就像美国也承认中国可能在以风能和太阳能为主的新替换能源中占主导地位。美国需要集中力量实现全球的真正和平以及抗击全球变暖。戈尔指出,在军队开支中每花费88美元的同时,只花了1美元在抗击全球变暖的行动上。中国政府在三峡大坝的投资上,使得美国能源投资先得无比暗淡,同时转换了大量的风能和太阳能。它同时也愿意在新能源技术上与美国合作。在抗击全球变暖的问题上,全世界需要通力合作,而不是在不久的未来使其妖魔化而损害儿孙的利益。

Ken Ng

America's stance on global warming infringes against basic human rights for every person to better his life and attempts to create a privilege class allowed to emit global warming gases. What is required is a carbon tax administered by the UN to create a negative feedback mechanism on the international economic structure to create a stable system. Anti-China comments are misdirected, racist and not logical as America now also whinges that China may dominate in the new alternative energy economy on wind and solar power. America needs to direct its resources towards real peace and combating global warming. Al Gore notes that it spends only $1 combating global warming and $88 on military expenditure. The Chinese investments on the 3 Gorges dam, wind and solar power is enormous and eclipse that spent in America. It is also willing to cooperate with America on alternative energy technology. The world needs unity and cooperative efforts to combat global warming and not malicious demonising for a decent future for all our children.


还有两个外交限制因数

为什么没有提到世界资源研究所的行动,让米拉什先生成为总统的密切顾问?另外,为什么没有涉及到美国的能源部长是源于中国的?

2 more diplomatics bounds

Why don't you say the WRI action, M.Lash beeing a very close counsellor of the President? And why don't you mention that the US secretary to the energy is originated of China ?


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