Monday, December 21, 2009

Miliband: China 'hijacked' Cop15

On Monday China called the outcome of the UN Climate Change summit a "game changer of a deal" and represented a "step forward". While an article on Xinhua conceded that the deal was "not enough, in the battle against global warming", there was little detail or admission that China had played a large part in creating divisions and of not offering to do more in its own effort to prevent the effects of climate change. 

The reporting in Chinese media was in sharp contrast to top headlines in western media. In the Guardian on Sunday, Britain's Energy Secretary Ed Miliband directly accused China for thwarting efforts to bring about a meaningful agreement. "We did not get an agreement on 50% reductions in global emissions by 2050 or on 80% reductions by developed countries. Both were vetoed by China, despite the support of a coalition of developed and the vast majority of developing countries," Miliband wrote in the Guardian. While Miliband conceded that for the "first time developing countries, including China, as well as developed countries have agreed emissions commitments for the next decade," the final deal was probably not enough.

Miliband also criticized the framework and organisation of the summit as a whole, describing it as a "chaotic process dogged by procedural games." Time was also an issue. Negotiations were disorganised and were not properly overseen by leaders, Miliband said. "Thirty leaders left their negotiators at 3am on Friday, the last night to haggle over the short Danish text that became the accord. To get a deal we needed urgent progress because time was running out. Five hours later, we had got to the third paragraph," he said.

Again he pointed another finger at China. "The vast majority of countries, developed and developing, believe that we will only construct a lasting accord that protects the planet if all countries' commitments or actions are legally binding. But some leading developing countries currently refuse to countenance this," Miliband said, "That is why we did not secure an agreement that the political accord struck in Copenhagen should lead to a legally binding outcome."

Miliband went on to say that Britain would make clear to those countries holding out against a binding legal treaty that "we will not allow them to block global progress." Reiterating his criticism of China he said, "We cannot again allow negotiations on real points of substance to be hijacked in this way."

Gordon Brown is expected to add to the criticism later on Monday. In a podcast which is to be posted on the web later, the prime minister is expected to say that at times he feared no deal would be reached at all. It is believed he will accuse a small group of countries of holding the Copenhagen climate summit talks to ransom. The 193-nation conference ended with delegates simply "taking note" of a US-led climate deal that included limiting temperature rises to less than 2°C.

China was the only country mentioned by name, but it is believed Miliband was also pointing an accusatory finger at Sudan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba which had also tried to resist a deal being signed. It is something which Britain's prime minister is also unhappy about. "Never again should we face the deadlock that threatened to pull down these talks," Gordon Brown will say later. "Never again should we let a global deal to move towards a greener future be held to ransom by only a handful of countries." Although an accord was finally reached between the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa, it is not legally binding. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the agreement must be made legally binding next year. No-one it appears is holding their breath on that happening [BBC].

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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