US China Joint Statement on energy cooperation

Check out the full text of the U.S. China Joint Statement at CBS

The joint statement issued tonight from beijing has a remarkable number of agreements in it.  But I only want to discuss the implications of the climate and energy agreements.  (Well, first, I want to note that the Yuan isn’t budging yet, but a few barbs seem to have flown over recent US protectionism)

If we are to take this statement at its word, it suggests that the US is backing off its Bush era strategy of pitting US opposition to Kyoto  on the failure to include binding targets for China.  The nod to the Bali Action Plan, UNFCCC and even quoting the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” suggest that Obama is willing to play ball in a game where Annex I distinctions still rule.  The distinction is spelled out even more clearly in the terms “emission reduction targets of developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries”.

I am still skeptical that Obama’s concession/posturing will mean anything for the outcome of Copenhagen, or that it could possible endure the US domestic ratification process if it ever made it that far.  The statement stalls well short of promising that the emission reductions will be deep or putting a $$ on the adaptation and developing country assistance.  But the change in tone and lack of offense from Obama for US climate positions makes a convincing show that the President thinks the issue deserves some sacrifices.

Here is the excerpt directly speaking to climate change negotiations:

“The two sides held a constructive and productive dialogue on the issue of climate change. They underscored that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. The two sides maintain that a vigorous response is necessary and that international cooperation is indispensable in responding to this challenge. They are convinced of the need to address climate change in a manner that respects the priority of economic and social development in developing countries and are equally convinced that transitioning to a low-carbon economy is an opportunity to promote continued economic growth and sustainable development in all countries.

Regarding the upcoming Copenhagen Conference, both sides agree on the importance of actively furthering the full, effective and sustained implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in accordance with the Bali Action Plan. The United States and China, consistent with their national circumstances, resolve to take significant mitigation actions and recognize the important role that their countries play in promoting a sustainable outcome that will strengthen the world’s ability to combat climate change. The two sides resolve to stand behind these commitments.

In this context both sides believe that, while striving for final legal agreement, an agreed outcome at Copenhagen should, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, include emission reduction targets of developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries. The outcome should also substantially scale up financial assistance to developing countries, promote technology development, dissemination and transfer, pay particular attention to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable to adapt to climate change, promote steps to preserve and enhance forests, and provide for full transparency with respect to the implementation of mitigation measures and provision of financial, technology and capacity building support.

The two sides are committed to working together and with other countries in the weeks ahead for a successful outcome at Copenhagen.”

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