Climate Change Summit - 3 Leaders in Paris spotlight

Xi Jinping: Chinese leader 'won't offer new concessions'

While President Xi will be in Paris for the UN climate change summit, a Chinese diplomat says the conference "is not about tabling new proposals".
While President Xi will be in Paris for the UN climate change summit, a Chinese diplomat says the conference "is not about tabling new proposals".PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

BEIJING • China's President Xi Jinping will bring no new concessions to the negotiating table when he attends key United Nations climate change talks in Paris next week, a senior Chinese diplomat has said.

Beijing pledged last year to peak carbon output by "around 2030" - suggesting at least another decade of growing emissions. China is estimated to have released nine to 10 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2013, nearly twice as much as the United States and around 21/2 times the European Union figure.

World leaders will be in attendance in France "to lend political impetus" to the summit but "are not there for negotiations", Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told a briefing on Wednesday.

"The Paris conference is not about tabling new proposals - it's about narrowing differences and reaching agreement on the basis of the existing proposals," he added.

Mr Xi will be in Paris for the first day of the UN climate change summit, which starts on Monday. He will have meetings with the the US and French presidents on the sidelines of the conference.

Campaigners had portrayed Beijing as a villain of a failed previous summit in Copenhagen, where its officials resisted carbon reduction targets. China will be a key player at the Paris summit in the face of disputes over whether developed or developing states should bear more of the burden for emission cuts.

Mr Liu called upon developed countries to do more by "increasing intensity of (their) actions before 2020". "The issue of climate change is the result of historical emissions by developed countries, and the responsibilities and obligations of developed and developing countries should be differentiated," he added.

China's economic boom has mainly been fuelled by coal, which provides most of its energy, and it plans to move 250 million more people from the countryside to cities in the next 10 years - creating more buildings and car users.

To control pollution, China plans to expand an experimental emission trading scheme from a handful of cities to nationwide. But there has been scepticism about national implementation.

"To expand the... scheme nationwide is difficult. China is still testing the waters," said Professor Zhu Dajian of Tongji University.

Just 18 per cent of people surveyed in China believe climate change is a "very serious" problem, and only 15 per cent believe the phenomenon will harm them during their lifetime, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Centre.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2015, with the headline 'Xi Jinping: Chinese leader 'won't offer new concessions''. Print Edition | Subscribe