China expects consensus to be reached at Paris talks

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 18, 2015 10:04 PM

By Dominique Patton

BEIJING (Reuters) - China expects world leaders at upcoming climate talks in Paris to be able to reach consensus, the country's climate change special representative Xie Zhenhua said on Thursday, adding Beijing wants a legally binding treaty.

The Nov. 30-Dec 11 Conference of the Parties (COP) in Paris will be the latest attempt by world leaders to forge a deal intended to avert more heatwaves, floods and rising seas following the failure of climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009.

Almost 200 nations attend the climate summit, with the legal status of a climate treaty one of the issues to be resolved.

The European Union and developing nations are urging an internationally binding text, others, such as the United States, want only national enforcement.

"Currently there are still some differences, but I believe that once the negotiations get underway, each country will fully play a constructive role and all will be able to adopt flexible positions," Xie told reporters. "In the final phase we should be able to obtain some consensus."

The United Nations says it is already clear the pledges by all governments to shift from fossil fuels will be insufficient to get on track to limit rising temperatures to a U.N. goal of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

China, the world's top greenhouse gas emitter, pledged last year to peak its emissions by around 2030, although it has not yet said at what level.

In September, it agreed to stand together with the United States to push for emissions targets to "ramp up over time in the direction of greater ambition".

Asked if China could go further to help achieve an agreement at Paris, Xie said a higher target would require upgrading its technology and would also need financial incentives.

China's current commitments had taken two years of preparation, he said, adding "We can guarantee we will fulfill this goal."

In response to criticism of the accuracy of China's coal consumption data, Xie said Beijing's revision of its coal data was reflected in its latest INDC report to the United Nations and wouldn't change the country's pledge to slash its emissions.

(Reporting by Dominique Patton and Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Ed Davies and Michael Perry)