China's climate deal efforts driven by pollution problem at home

BEIJING -- China's push for a global climate pact was due in part to its own increasingly pressing need to solve serious environmental problems, observers said Sunday.

See Full Article

China, the world's biggest source of climate-changing gases, was blamed for obstructing the last high-level climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009. This time around, it sent strong political signals it wanted a deal ahead of and during the Paris negotiations that ended Saturday with the agreement to keep global temperatures from rising another degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) between now and 2100.

"Environmental issues have become much more important to the Chinese public and therefore to the Chinese government," said Dimitri de Boer, head of China Carbon Forum, a Beijing-based non-profit organization.

Since 2009, the public has gone from not knowing much or caring about environmental issues "and mainly being focused on wanting to make some money, to now being very concerned with environmental issues and taking that on par with wanting to make money," he said.

China's cities are among the world's dirtiest after three decades of explosive economic growth that led to construction of hundreds of coal-fired power plants and an increase in car ownership.

China was reminded of its severe environmental challenges during the Paris conference when the capital, Beijing, issued its first red alert for pollution under a two-year system because of heavy smog. The city ordered limits on vehicles, factories and construction sites and told schools to close.

China pushed for a deal because of its own problems and because the effects of climate change are becoming clearer each year, said Dr. Jiang Kejun, senior researcher at the Energy Research Institute under the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning agency.

The message on climate change "is very clear -- we must do something -- and in the meantime the domestic policymaking process is getting more environment-oriented," Jiang said. The air pollution in Beijing is putting pressure on policymakers and China is moving toward a low-carbon economy anyway, he said.

To build momentum for a deal, China and the United States, the world's two biggest carbon emitters, last year set a 2030 deadline for emissions to stop rising. This June, Beijing promised to cut carbon emissions per unit of economic output by 65 per cent from 2005 levels.

In September, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $3.1 billion to help developing countries combat climate change.

"That's huge," said de Boer. "They may well be a developing country, but they are also clearly ready to start supporting the least-developed countries in terms of their climate mitigation and adaptation efforts."

Xi attended the opening ceremony of the Paris conference two weeks ago along with other leaders -- and made a last-ditch effort in phone talks with President Barack Obama on Friday to get a global deal, according to China's official Xinhua News Agency. He told Obama that their countries needed to work together to ensure an agreement was reached "in the interest of the international community," Xinhua said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that China's push for a successful conclusion to the Paris negotiations "fully shows that China is dealing with climate change issues as a responsible big country."

Beijing came under criticism for obstructing the 2009 Copenhagen talks when some participants complained China and India stymied global emissions reduction efforts, possibly for fear they might hamper economic growth.

Now, the world's second-largest economy has emerged as a leader in curbing greenhouse gas emissions by investing in solar, wind and hydro power and even reducing its coal consumption last year as it attempts to clean up its polluted cities.

It is also already nurturing more self-sustaining growth as it refocuses its economy away from energy-hungry heavy industry to consumer spending and technology and making energy efficiency gains.

Dr. Olivia Gippner, a climate politics researcher at the London School of Economics, said that China's actions in the run-up to the conference indicated that it had "a very high willingness to do something," which sent an important signal to other countries.

"It was like an opener for the overall negotiations to go forward," she said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • PM stars on CBC

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Peter Mansbridge retires soon, but luckily CBC seems to have found its new face: Justin Trudeau. I know, I know, you haven’t been this excited since Hockey Night in Canada landed George Stroumboulopoulos. Justin stars in the Story of Us, our state broadcaster’s series celebrating Canada’s sesquicentennial. Source
  • Ivanka Trump to become official White House employee

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Ivanka Trump is joining her father's administration as an official employee. The first daughter announced Wednesday that she will serve as an unpaid employee in the White House. She said she has "heard the concerns some have with my advising the President in my personal capacity. Source
  • Quebec national assembly remembers Jean Lapierre a year after his death

    Canada News CTV News
    Quebec's political class remembered Jean Lapierre on Wednesday, one year after the former MP and TV commentator died in a plane crash. The national assembly adopted a motion commemorating the first anniversary of Lapierre's death and then held a minute's silence. Source
  • Is WWE plotting against sex tape wrestler Paige?

    World News Toronto Sun
    The prospective husband of wrestling superstar Paige — whose world has been shattered by a raunchy threesome sex tape — is darkly hinting the WWE is behind it. Two-time WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio — rumoured to be marrying Paige Wednesday — suggested on Instagram that an unnamed company is trying to destroy the body-slamming lovebirds. Source
  • 'Angel of Death' serial killer badly beaten in Ohio prison

    World News CTV News
    TOLEDO, Ohio -- A serial killer known as the "Angel of Death" after he admitted killing three dozen hospital patients in Ohio and Kentucky during the 1970s and '80s was beaten in his cell and is in critical condition, state authorities said Wednesday. Source
  • Mobster mash! Cops bust Mafia racket

    World News Toronto Sun
    Ten members of the notorious Bonanno crime family were busted for allegedly running a $26 million loan-sharking racket that spanned 20 years — and they could face decades in jail. New York cops say many of the arrested are mob scions, including the nephew of the alleged mastermind behind the JFK Lufthansa heist made famous in GoodFellas. Source
  • Londoners gather to remember victims of Westminster Bridge attack

    World News CBC News
    Hundreds of people joined together on Westminster Bridge Wednesday to remember the four killed in last week's London attack. A large crowd, which included police, hospital staff and relatives of victims, stretched across the bridge where Khalid Masood drove a car into pedestrians March 22. Source
  • ISIS thugs throw gay man to his death

    World News Toronto Sun
    Shocking new photos are showing ISIS thugs throwing a gay man from a Mosul rooftop. And after the terrified man crashed into the ground, the jihadists pummelled him with rocks until he was dead. The sick series of photos — released by ISIS’s media arm — shows the man being led to the top of the building before being hurled to the ground. Source
  • ’Angel of Death’ serial killer badly beaten in prison

    World News Toronto Sun
    TOLEDO, Ohio — Authorities say a serial killer who admitted killing three dozen hospital patients in Ohio and Kentucky during the 1970s and ’80s has been badly beaten inside his prison cell. A spokeswoman for Ohio’s prison system says 64-year-old Donald Harvey was hospitalized after being found Tuesday at the state’s prison in Toledo. Source
  • Oland's lawyers ask Supreme Court of Canada for murder acquittal

    Canada News CTV News
    Dennis Oland's lawyers have asked the Supreme Court of Canada to acquit him of second-degree murder based on five issues of "public importance." They say in documents filed with the court that his conviction was unreasonable, and argue evidence given by a trial witness was at odds with the Crown's assertion that Oland murdered his multimillionaire father in July 2011. Source