China and Asia at Durban

Hello from Durban, South Africa! As Team China, over the course of the semester we have been researching China’s climate policy, both international and domestic, and how it relates to the climate policies of other key Asian nations, such as India, Japan, South Korea, and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). At the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) here in Durban, we will be following the Chinese delegation’s movements at the COP.

The  conflict between China and the U.S. received a lot of press during the past two COPs in Copenhagen and Cancun, and not all of it was rosy. Thus, we’ve been hearing that China’s main goal at the Durban COP is to do a bit of PR work, highlighting the climate achievements of China’s previous 11th Five Year Plan and the  myriad of significant climate policies enshrined in the recently enacted 12th Five Year Plan. Part of that PR blitz can be seen in the 24 events the China Pavilion will be hosting here at Durban to highlight climate change mitigation and adaptation projects throughout all levels of Chinese government and society. Many of these China Pavilion events include panelists from other nations, particularly EU nations such as Italy, the U.K., Denmark, Germany, and Sweden.

Though as China welcomes EU representatives to its pavilion, the EU had its own unwelcome surprise for China and the G77 at the first day of negotiations. Long considered the sole developed country advocates for an extension of the current Kyoto Protocol past its 2012 “expiration date”–an extension that China and the G77 staunchly support–the EU nevertheless announced that they, too, are not willing to support a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol if they are the only developed countries on board. And with Russia, Japan, and Canada refusing to sign up for a continuation of Kyoto, and with the U.S. never having signed on to the original Kyoto Protocol in the first place, it seems like there is not a high chance that other countries besides the EU will be in a Kyoto mood any time soon.

China is a member of both the developing country negotiation bloc and the emerging economy negotiation bloc, both of which have up until now strongly supported the continuation of Kyoto into a second commitment period past 2012. We’ll follow how the news from the EU affects China’s negotiation stance throughout the COP.