China Environmental Law

A discussion of China’s environmental and energy laws, regulations, and policies

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Copenhagen Accord: Take One

December 21st, 2009 · No Comments

I will have a longer post on the Copenhagen Accord when the dust settles. It is pretty clear from the Chinese press reports that China doesn’t know what to make of the Accord or how to spin it yet. One thing is abundantly clear, however, unlike US commentators who have praised the Accord for moving beyond the binary developed/developing nation distinctions, China resolutely contends that these distinctions remain and the principle of “common, but differentiated” continues in full force and effect.

The accord upheld the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” set by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, made arrangements for developed countries’ compulsory emissions cuts and developing countries’ voluntary mitigation actions, and included wide consensus on the key issues of long-term global emissions reduction objectives, funding and technology support, and transparency.

The language of the Accord certainly supports the Chinese reading, although some, albeit minor, lessening of the “differentiation” between the responsibilities of developed and the larger emitters among the “developing” countries is also in evidence.

One other thing is certain, China and the US still have a significant way to go to develop a level of trust that will allow them to discuss and negotiate these issues rationally. The events of last Friday bear more resemblance to a Keystone Kop feature than a functioning, working relationship between two superpowers on one of the most important issues of our age.

Tags: Copenhagen · US-China relations · carbon emissions · climate change · miscellany

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