Climate negotiations down to the wire

Updated: 2011-12-10 07:29

By Li Jing and Lan Lan (China Daily)

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DURBAN, South Africa - With time winding down at the Durban climate change talks, countries are narrowing their options for a balanced solution.

"An outcome is still within reach as long as all the countries can take on more flexibility at this final stage of negotiation," Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate negotiator, said on Friday.

Issues in question are a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, creating a Green Climate Fund and starting a process to negotiate a climate regime after 2020, Xie said.

Closed-door talks ran into 4 am on Friday morning as negotiators tried hard to reduce the number of options which will be put on the table for ministers to make final decisions.

"We're still waiting for a final negotiation text from the chair, with which ministers can sit down and secure an outcome," said Xie. "The final outcome should be a balanced one and needs compromise from all parties."

Such an arrangement should also reflect the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" between developing and developed nations, and address the issue of environmental integrity, Xie said.

The European Union has also called for a roadmap leading to a legally binding deal for all countries after 2020.

"Such an arrangement needs to be further negotiated and should be something we can all accept. Calling it a 'legally binding deal' at this point of time is prejudging the negation results," he said.

The EU said an increasing number of countries are joining them in seeking such a roadmap, including African countries and small island nations.

Two big emerging economies - South Africa and Brazil - also expressed interest in a legally binding deal after 2020.

But Xie denied a split among the BASIC group - Brazil, South Africa, India and China.

"The Chinese delegation has made concerted efforts with the rest of the BASIC countries during the meeting and we hope the Durban meeting could achieve active progress," he said.

African Group lead negotiator Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu said that the EU is taking a hard line in the negotiations. "If you are too rigid you become irrelevant. This is a negotiation process. You can't get everything you want," he said.

China Daily