Copenhagen Day 9 – China vs US again

Day 9

Day 9

The two big hitters in these negotiations are at loggerheads, meaning that the chance of any significant deal is virtually zero. Already there is talk of “failure” and the focus now is on a possible extension of Kyoto, combined with a new deal to bring in the US and developing countries – sounds like a dog’s breakfast to me:

Yu Qingtai, China’s climate ambassador, batted away calls for Beijing to up its pledge.

China’s plan, which entails braking its expected use of energy in relation to economic growth, is not on the table, he told reporters at the climate talks in Copenhagen.

“We announced those targets, we don’t intend to put them up for discussion,” Yu said.

Separately, the United States poured cold water on the notion that it would deepen its offer of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, as outlined by President Barack Obama in the run-up to the conference.

I am not anticipating any change in the mitigation commitment,” US chief delegate Todd Stern told a press conference.

“Our commitment is tied to our anticipated legislation and there are elements in that legislation that could result in an overall target or an overall reduction amount that could actually be a fair amount higher.

“But we’re not making a commitment to that right now because it’s just uncertain and we don’t want to promise something that we don’t have.”

The roles of China and the United States, the world’s No. 1 and 2 emitters, are pivotal to the negotiations unfolding in Copenhagen on crafting a new global pact on climate change beyond 2012. (source)

For some reason, Australia sees itself as playing an important part in these negotiations, despite not having any emissions trading legislation (thanks, Tony!) and contributing less than 1.5% to global emissions. But Penny and Kevin see themselves as climate crusaders, wading in to try and clinch a deal for the sake of the planet:

ENVIRONMENT ministers in Copenhagen are battling to achieve agreement on a fall-back option of two separate climate change agreements — an extension of the Kyoto Protocol and a separate deal bringing in the US and the developing world.

The compromise is an attempt to break the deadlock between developing countries which want a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol for rich nations, and the US and other developed countries, which say global warming cannot be slowed without binding and verifiable promises from major developing countries as well.

After a day when the stand-off initially brought the negotiations to a halt, Danish Environment Minister Connie Hedegaard has appointed key ministers, including Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, to try to break particular deadlocked issues and save the talks from failure.

But some developing countries labelled that process “totally undemocratic and totally untransparent” and indicated they would continue to resist it.

Australian business groups in Copenhagen warned that the “two-agreement” solution posed regulatory risks.

“Having a two-speed approach might get us through this week, but if it institutionalises different rules it could mean we end up playing by different rules to China and the United States,” said the Mineral Council of Australia’s Brendan Pearson. (source)

The Indians have clearly had enough of Wong’s meddling:

India has labelled Australia an “ayatollah” because of its strident advocacy of a one-track approach at the UN climate talks that will eventually force all countries to be bound by a single treaty.

In frank comments to the Herald at the Copenhagen summit, India’s Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, said bluntly: “Australia is sort of the ayatollah of the single track”.

Developing countries are arguing that Australia and its allies are trying to push the outcome of the talks away from the Kyoto Protocol. Mr Ramesh warned that this was “a recipe for disaster at the talks”.

The Indian Environment Minister had just pulled out of a crucial meeting with Australia’s Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, aimed at breaking the deadlock in the climate talks. (source)

Keep up the good work Penny! I looks like you are singlehandedly wrecking any chance of a deal – I’m starting to admire you! And she’s openly talking of failure at Copenhagen, and is worried for the sake of the planet if it happens:

“All of us are concerned about what would happen if we fail,” Senator Wong told reporters from the summit on Tuesday afternoon.

“But can I say that the possibility of failure is not so much a political problem, it’s a problem for the world.”

Despite the possibility of failure Senator Wong was upbeat the climate change summit could turn a corner and be a success.

That’s because world leaders – including Australia’s Kevin Rudd – fly in from Tuesday to take over the talks. [Yeah, that’ll make all the difference. A Krudd-speak filled homily from our PM – Ed]

“We’re moving into what I hope will be a more constructive phase,” Senator Wong said.

“We’ve got to get out of the trenches and get around the negotiating table, and that’s what we intend to do.”

I think Penny’s been at the happy pills. On a lighter note, the best advert for the abolition of the British monarchy, Prince Charles, has delivered a bonkers speech at Copenhagen – always good for a laugh:

“The future of mankind can be assured only if we rediscover ways in which to live as a part of nature, not apart from her,” he said. “The grim reality is that our planet has reached a point of crisis and we have only seven years before we lose the levers of control.” [Seven years – mark it in the diary along with all the others – Ed]

He pointed out that climate change is a “risk multiplier”.

“Reducing poverty, increasing food production, combating terrorism and sustaining economic development are all vital priorities, but it is increasingly clear how rapid climate change will make them even more difficult to address,” he warned. (source)

Don’t forget – this is a guy who talks to trees.


  1. I’m impressed. Like her boss, k.d. wong is proving that she also needs a bigger world stage to perform on — clearly there are just not enough people in Australia for her to offend and insult. Having nearly exhausted the domestic audience, she has now moved on to India and China. Even for someone of her undisputed talents, that should be a bit of a challenge.

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