China is the prime focus of international climate change negotiations beginning this week, with leading figures in the talks calling urgently on Beijing to co-operate in forging a new agreement on greenhouse gases.
The United Nations, the US and European governments have all stepped up their diplomatic efforts to woo Beijing in recent days, emolliently brushing aside its hardline stance. Late last month, Beijing called on rich countries to cut their emissions by 40 per cent by 2020, far more than any has agreed, and to give 0.5 to 1 per cent of their gross domestic product to poor countries to cope with climate change.
This has been privately dismissed by Western diplomats as posturing, but in public officials have been careful to adopt a conciliatory tone.
“The Chinese leadership have become very serious about looking at this issue [of global warming],” Ban Ki-moon, United Nations secretary-general, told the Financial Times. “China is now investing a lot in renewable energy to make it industry cleaner. They are building major nuclear power plants. . . the way they have taken measures is very important.”
Todd Stern, US special envoy for climate change, added last week: “I don"t think that there"s any question that China and the other major economies have to be in the game. They"re doing a lot already, but they"re going to need to do more actions and commit to them and be able to quantify them.”