In The Field

Climate war game: Day II ends in a tentative agreement, and chocolate

Okay folks, I’ll try not to belabour the point here because we still have no resolution to the talks and I’m curious about the chocolate confections (and chocolate martinis, it is rumoured, although that’s not really my style) at Co Co. Sala. It seems a little decadent, but it’s been a long day of difficult negotiations. Honestly.

Things almost broke down among the Chinese team members, who talked for hours about “baselines” and “targets,” emissions intensity versus real reductions, technology transfer and the ever-popular “low-hanging fruit.” At a time when most China delegates appeared ready to throw in the towel, Jiahua Pan (executive director of the Research Centre for Sustainable Development in Beijing) stood his ground. For hours he valiantly fended off all talk of strict emissions cuts, insisting that no amount of money from the West could make up for a lack of technology. At one point toward the end, I distinctly heard the words “this is a game” uttered in exasperation.

“It’s a very serious debate, and it reflects how enthusiastic people are about the game,” China team member Lianhong Gu (one of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists) told me toward the end. “That’s one positive aspect of the game. I’m very much hopeful that something good will come of it.”

Suffice it to say that Pan and his colleagues now appear to have agreed to an offer for monetary aide from the United States and Europe. Under this framework, the nations would split three-ways the cost of any emissions reductions below China’s original commitment under the 2012 Copenhagen agreement (a 20 percent reduction in emissions intensity by 2020) through 2025. Of course, there are various ways you can read that, and it’s not clear exactly who is assuming what. Once again, we’ll see how things turn out at the final session tomorrow.

I suspect I’ve failed in my initial promise not to belabour the point, but I’m now off to join the crew at Co Co. Sala.

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