China Path To Copenhagen

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Strategic Recommendations for How the PRC Could Create an Optimal Outcome at COP15, by Bidisha Banerjee, Andy Barnett, Alyssa Go, Angel Hsu, Saman Ikram, Christopher Kieran, and MarianThorpe.

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China Path To Copenhagen

  1. 1. YALE  SCHOOL  OF  FORESTRY  &  ENVIRONMENTAL  STUDIES   China’s  Path  to  Copenhagen:   Strategic  Recommendations  for  How  the  PRC  Could   Create  an  Optimal  Outcome  at  COP  15       Bidisha  Banerjee,  Andy  Barnett,  Alyssa  Go,  Angel  Hsu,  Saman  Ikram,  Christopher  Kieran,  Marian  Thorpe       11/24/2009   Recognizing  the  People’s  Republic  of  China’s  substantial  domestic  efforts  on  behalf  of  the  climate  system,   this  report  by  graduate  students  at  the  Yale  School  of  Forestry  &  Environmental  Studies  turns  a  lens  on  the   nation’s  pivotal  role  in  the  international  arena.    This  paper  discusses  the  upcoming  UNFCCC  Conference  of   the  Parties  and  makes  recommendations  for  China’s  negotiating  stance  that  further  the  nation’s   environmental,  economic,  and  political  goals  of  achieving  a  circular  economy  and  a  harmonious  society.  The   recommendations  also  describe  how  the  PRC  could  enhance  its  leadership  as  a  world  power  through  the   international  climate  change  regime.    The  recommendations  are  outlined  in  the  executive  summary.  
  2. 2. Executive Summary Introduction U.S. President Barack Obama’s Nov. 14-15 visit with President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China highlights the Asian country’s emergence as a world superpower. The timing of Obama’s trip, about one month before the upcoming climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, underscored the fact that China also plays a leading role on the international stage when it comes to the environment. In this regard, China has led by example. China’s National Climate Change Policy, released in 2007, reveals a strong commitment to reducing the nation’s impact on global climate change and the environment. In the plan, China pledges to “strive to build a resource conservative and environmentally friendly society, enhance national capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and make further contribution to the protection of the global climate system” (“China’s National” 2007). This commitment has already been demonstrated through the adoption of domestic policies that promote energy efficiency and conservation, improve motor vehicle fuel economy, set ambitious energy targets, and promote reforestation (“Climate Change” 2007). Recognizing China’s substantial domestic efforts on behalf of the climate system, this report turns a lens on the nation’s pivotal role in the international arena and potential to guide the negotiations toward a desirable outcome for all parties. This paper discusses critical issues for China in the upcoming UNFCCC Conference of the Parties and makes recommendations for China to further its environmental, economic, and political goals of achieving a circular economy and a harmonious society. These recommendations also outline how the PRC could enhance its leadership as a world power through the international climate regime. In regards to the legal structure of an international climate change agreement: In the AWG-KP China could: • Gain time to restore the stalled AWG-KP talks by convincing all other countries of the need to extend the Bali Action Plan’s timeline for agreement. • Work with the G77 and Annex I countries to draft a post-COP 15 negotiating time- table. • Cement the support of the African Group in the AWG-KP so that the African Group does not stymie talks as in Barcelona. • Convince India not to rely exclusively on COP decisions, since these decisions have weak legal character. • Join with India in offering to restrict per capita emissions pegged to the Annex I per capita average. China could take this position within the Contact Group on Potential Consequences). In the AWG-LCA, China could: • Distance itself from the Japanese and Australian proposals on the table because they undermine the KP’s legal bindingness. • Safeguard against Annex I countries’ impulse to cherry-pick aspects of the KP –i.e. the CDM. • Push for “politically binding” targets on emissions reductions and financing from developed countries. In regards to financing mechanisms in an international climate change agreement: China could: China’s Path to Copenhagen 3
  3. 3. • Engage in the CDM reform discussion to demonstrate leadership on behalf of other developing nations. • Ensure that World Climate Change Fund assessments account for cumulative historical emissions. • Expedite agreements on funding from market-based levies scheduled for COP 16. This may be a viable option for securing some form of adaptation and mitigation funding, despite the likelihood of a weak or no agreement emerging from Copenhagen. • Secure promised funding commitments from developed countries. • Encourage voluntary contributions from developed countries. • Leverage the negotiations to build bilateral agreements regarding carbon capture and storage and markets for Chinese-made clean technologies. In regards to Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) in an international climate change agreement: China could: • Support flexibility in NAMAs projects so that goals, and the tools to achieve those goals, can be developed according to China’s priorities. • Push for interim financial measures and secure adequate climate finance for early mitigation actions. • China could support MRV for technology-based conditional NAMAs. MRV of NAMAs in developing countries is seen as pivotal in establishing compliance and building credibility in the financing mechanism. In regards to “Measurable, Reportable, and Verifiable” Actions and Commitments in an international climate change agreement: China could: • Push for compulsory MRV for all developed country commitments and support, particularly through a third-party or international body that can independently MRV such support. • Consider what aspects of its climate policy China has the capacity to MRV or are willing to submit for international MRV and consider putting those on the negotiation table. • Vie for capacity building and support from developed countries to strengthen MRV systems. With regards to China’s bilateral negotiations with the United States: China could: • Capitalize on common ground. Both the US and China can spur local mitigation actions with emphases on energy efficiency, renewable energy, smart grid development, and data- driven environmental performance. • Seek no-loss concessions. Now that the United States EPA has offered to fund and assist China’s NDRC in a green house gas inventory, China could offer to MRV select mitigation actions at low cost or no cost. • Seek win-win scenarios. The United States and EU want steep emission cuts from China, and China wants more funding for adaptation, mitigation and technology transfer. There is room for both sides to find a beneficial outcome. China’s Path to Copenhagen 4

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