Newspaper article International New York Times

China Balks at Donating to Climate Assistance ; Developing-Nation Stance Hinders Goal of Raising $100 Billion Yearly

Newspaper article International New York Times

China Balks at Donating to Climate Assistance ; Developing-Nation Stance Hinders Goal of Raising $100 Billion Yearly

Article excerpt

China still considers itself a developing country for purposes of climate negotiations, even as raising funds to help poorer countries remains a hurdle.

Last week, China was trumpeting its arrival as one of the world's great economic powers, as the International Monetary Fund elevated the renminbi to the ranks of leading currencies, alongside the dollar, euro, yen and British pound.

This week, China is crying poverty.

A crucial issue at the climate negotiations now taking place in Le Bourget, a northeast suburb of Paris, lies in who will foot the bill for $100 billion a year in long-promised assistance for developing countries, starting in 2020.

Europe and the United States, still feeling the effects of the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, have been trying to pass the hat for contributions from increasingly affluent middle-income countries, particularly China.

China has considered itself a developing country for purposes of climate negotiations for more than 20 years. And it is sticking to that position, even as locking in sources for the $100 billion annually for poorer countries is one of the biggest remaining hurdles for the talks, which are scheduled to end Friday.

Li Junfeng, the director general of climate change strategy at the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top government planning agency, ruled out any change in China's classification as a developing country.

"That is the most important regulation, based on the kind of convention that China still recognizes themselves as developing," he said on Tuesday, speaking at The International New York Times Energy for Tomorrow conference in Paris.

Western officials have responded to China's stance by volubly praising Beijing for its willingness to limit future emissions of greenhouse gases while also pursuing quiet diplomacy on the financial issue. They are trying to find legal language acceptable to China that would mandate a sizable financial contribution.

"Hopefully we can work quietly and effectively with China to bring them even further on board, but I think China has made a huge difference and has already stepped up significantly," Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday at the conference.

He also noted that hundreds of millions of people in China were still very poor.

Later in the day, Mr. Kerry announced a planned doubling of American assistance for climate change adaptation by developing countries, to $860 million in 2020 instead of $430 million, subject to congressional approval.

Less than two days before their deadline to conclude a sweeping new climate accord, negotiators from nearly 200 countries have yet to resolve major issues, including how and when pledged cuts to carbon emissions would be verified.

Lead negotiators said they were confident that a deal could still be reached, although Rachel Kyte, the World Bank's special envoy for climate change, mentioned at the energy conference that the talks could run into Saturday or Sunday. But some outside observers who have been monitoring the talks said that the compromises necessary to bring it across the finish line could weaken the deal so much it would become nearly toothless.

At the heart of the proposed deal is a set of pledges from 186 countries, representing more than 90 percent of the global economy, to cut their emissions. But a draft text published on Wednesday did not include any details on how those emissions cuts would be monitored and verified.

China has been splashing out huge sums for other projects but refuses to let them count toward the $100 billion in annual contributions called for in the climate negotiations.

China is setting up the $100 billion, 57-nation Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and it created a separate $40 billion fund at the end of last year to help pay for investments in countries along the ancient Silk Road. …

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