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China, U.S. at odds in Copenhagen

December 15, 2009

As the world climate talks entered their critical final week, developing nations walked out of the meeting and a dispute between the U.S. and China bubbled over.

Developing nations brought the meeting to a halt Monday protesting the adequacy of financial assistance being proposed by developed countries to pay for greenhouse gas reductions in poor nations and over proposed levels of GHG reductions.

The U.S. has proposed reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050.  China has proposed reducing its growth in GHG emissions by 40-45 percent.   

But the N.Y. Times is reporting that there’s a stalemate in Copenhagen on the critical issue of verification.   At this point, the Chinese are refusing to sign a deal that would allow other countries to monitor their emissions.

They have made clear that they do not expect money from the industrial powers to help make the shift to a more energy-efficient economy. But they will not accept any outside monitors to ensure that they are indeed making the changes that they have promised to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other pollutants emitted per unit of economic output.

He Yafei, the Chinese vice foreign minister, said China’s laws would guarantee compliance. “This is a matter of principle,” even if it scuttles the talks, he said in an interview with the Financial Times.

Any deal without on the ground verification would be a tough sell in Congress, where many members are already calling for tariffs on goods made in countries without limits on carbon emissions.   Congress Daily reported that Top U.S. climate negotatiator Todd Stern said the talks have a long way to go.

“The core issues remaining for the U.S. negotiators include having major developing nations like China ‘indicate their resolve’ to implement emission reduction goals as well as to have the parties ensure that implementation of those actions have ‘adequate transparency,’ Stern said.”

President Obama is scheduled to attend the meeting on Thursday with other leaders as the talks enter their final stages.

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