Ananth Krishnan

U.S.-European stand an issue of sovereignty: Beijing

Common position on major issues, says official

Cooperation in forestry, energy efficiency to be stepped up

BEIJING: China supports India in opposing any international “scrutiny” of voluntary actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said the country's top climate change negotiator on Wednesday.

China also sought to continue and expand cooperation with India as negotiations between the developing world and the West headed towards the climate change conference in Mexico later this year, said Xie Zhenhua, vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission and one of China's lead negotiators at December's Copenhagen conference.

“China and India have a common position on major issues on climate change and we are willing to step up cooperation in forestry, energy efficiency and renewable energy,” he said. “We face common challenges, such as the task of developing our economy, eliminating poverty, improving people's livelihood, reducing emissions and protecting the environment.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Xie also lent support to India's opposition to any international scrutiny of voluntary actions to reduce emissions, which the United States and some European countries are calling for. That, Mr. Xie said, was out of the question, being “an issue of sovereignty”.

“Autonomous efforts must not be subject to MRV [Measurement, Reporting and Verification],” he stressed.

He, however, added that China had agreed to “verification that is non-intrusive” in the interest of advancing negotiations at Copenhagen, and to “reduce mistrust” with the West.

While China and India had initially been opposed to any MRV of voluntary projects, they had agreed to “consultations and analysis” in the negotiations but not to “scrutiny”.

Developed countries, Mr. Xie said, “should be subject to MRV in emission reductions and also in providing technological, financial and capacity building support to developing countries”.

The question of international scrutiny of developing countries' mitigation actions remains a crucial sticking point in talks between the West and the developing world. In its submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) last month, the U.S. reiterated its call for “scrutiny” of voluntary actions, though it later changed its position following opposition from India, as The Hindu first reported on February 28.

China and India this week formally “listed” their names as parties to the Copenhagen accord, though many differences still remain in the positions of developing countries and the West.

Mr. Xie called on the U.S. to help bridge the gap and work towards an agreement in Mexico.

He said the U.S “should do more in terms of providing technology and capacity building support”, and its commitments “fell short of UNFCCC requirements and expectations of developing countries”.

“We hope the U.S. will not shift responsibility to other countries,” Mr. Xie added.