China and U.S. Start Moving the Copenhagen Chess Pieces

The Copenhagen climate talks got a big boost on Thursday as the United States and China made two important moves on finance and transparency that could unlock the door to an agreement when some 115 presidents and prime ministers convene tomorrow for the final day of negotiations.

In the morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the U.S. will contribute to a multinational public and private fund reaching $100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to climate change impacts, reduce deforestation, and deploy clean technology.  Secretary Clinton said the money would come from a combination of government revenues and alternative sources, including the private sector.  She emphasized that U.S. support for this financing proposal depends on reaching an operational agreement that provides for all major emitters to transparently implement their emission reduction commitments and actions.  (See here and here.)

In the afternoon, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs He Yafei announced China’s willingness to support provisions for greater international transparency.   Vice-Minister He reiterated that China’s recently-announced carbon intensity target “will be fully guaranteed domestically and legally binding” by placing it in the country’s next five-year plan. And opening significant new ground, He said that China “will enhance and improve our national communications” (the periodic international report on emissions and reduction actions) and “can also consider . . . international exchange, dialogue, and cooperation that is not intrusive and does not infringe on China’s sovereignty.”   (See here.)

We said earlier this week that these were the two moves needed to unlock the Copenhagen chess game.  Now they’re happening, and things are starting to move.  Leaders seem to be instructing their negotiators to move towards agreement on a range of detailed issues that have defied resolution for the past 12 days.  Small groups are expected to work late into the night while ministers and leaders focus on the sticking points. 

Stay tuned.