China: Bridge between developed, developing nations at Paris talks

Climate Change

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping

Developed and developing countries have historically taken different approaches to combating climate change. In contrast to the Copenhagen climate talks, China is bridging the gap.

The Paris approach to these climate talks calls for every nation to make a pledge to do what they can. Like the developed nations, China has made emissions reductions pledges, but President Xi Jinping is also taking a very public stance on behalf of other developing nations.

China: Bridge between developed, developing nations at Paris talks

Developed and developing countries have historically taken different approaches to combating climate change. In contrast to the Copenhagen climate talks, China is bridging the gap. The Paris approach to these climate talks calls for every nation to make a pledge to do what they can. Like the developed nations, China has made emissions reductions pledges, but President Xi Jinping is also taking a very public stance on behalf of other developing nations.

“Addressing climate change should not deny the legitimate needs of developing countries to reduce poverty and improve people’s living standards,” said Xi in a speech on day one of the talks.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paints the picture vividly: imagine what it takes to bring energy access to 300-million Indians, all while polluting less than developed nations did to achieve the same goal.

“We have to ensure in the spirit of climate justice that the life of a few does not crowd out the opportunity for the many still on the initial steps of development ladder,” Modi said.

India has joined China, the United States and 17 other countries committing to double clean energy research funding over the next five years. Microsoft’s Bill Gates and other investors will pledge $7 billion towards the development and research of clean energy technology.

“In the area of medicine: basic government research laid the foundation that allowed the private
sector to come in and create great new medicines. And that’s the same dynamic that we’re trying to create here,” said Gates.

While oil-producing states like Saudi Arabia have signed onto this clean energy initiative, they are wary of final climate agreement language that suggests fossil fuels have to be phased out completely.

At the same time, U.S. President Barack Obama says a final climate deal must acknowledge the needs of developing nations.

“Helping developing nations skip the dirty phase of development is vital to meeting this challenge,” Obama said.

A key focus at these talks will be growing the Green Climate Fund.

Both the U.S. and China have pledged $3 billion to that fund, but the goal is to muster 100 billion a year.

As of November 2015, the Green Climate Fund has raised $10.2 billion equivalent in pledges from 38 state governments.  The gap may be made up in large part by corporate and foundation pledges.