Presidents Obama, Hu underscore importance of an ambitious global deal in Copenhagen

21 November 2009

Presidents Obama and Hu, leaders of the world's two biggest carbon-emitting countries, met in Beijing today to discuss cooperation on climate change and energy issues.

Just days after President Obama had cast doubt on the likelihood of a legally-binding agreement in Copenhagen, he and President Jintao jointly committed to press for a comprehensive accord in Copenhagen, one that would cover key issues in the negotiations and have immediate operational effect.

In a joint communiqué the two leaders said that the December deal should include clearly defined emission targets for 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 communiqué says.

The two countries also signed various agreements on bilateral cooperation focusing on low-carbon technology research and development, green buildings and electric vehicles.

Changhua Wu, The Climate Group's Greater China Director, said: "The outcomes of the summit are encouraging in that they show a clear political will from both sides to make the Copenhagen climate negotiations a success, and to scale up bilateral cooperation on the key issues. The two sides seem to understand that they have to work together to make climate change an opportunity and not a threat to their economies. The bilateral commitments will now have to be backed by sufficient resources to enable implementation."

Michael Allegretti, The Climate Group's Senior Advisor on US Policy, said: "The commitments made by the American and Chinese governments show a willingness to progress the debate from deliberation towards action. Only by acting together can meaningful action on climate be achieved and mutual economic benefits flow to each country. If both sides do not view taking action as a real win, there will be no real action. While significant work remains to be done, it is encouraging to see cooperation on some of these most critical issues."

With the short time remaining until world leaders gather in Copenhagen, it is now up to the US and China  to translate these promises into clear commitments for the negotiations. For the US, this means committing to meaningful absolute emission reduction targets.  For China, it means presenting a low-carbon growth plan with mitigation efforts that are supported by both financial commitments from China and a clear idea of the international finance needed.


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