China Transparency Pledge Moves Copenhagen Talks Forward

China advanced hope for a global climate accord Thursday, saying it would enhance the information it makes available to other countries about its carbon emissions and submit that reporting to some form of international review.

This opens the door to a potential agreement that ensures transparency in a way that is not intrusive and respects China's sovereignty. It is a welcome sign of how serious the Chinese are about taking action against climate change.

The announcement was made by He Yafei, China's vice minister for foreign affairs, at a press conference at the UN climate summit.  He said China would enhance and improve national communication to improve transparency, and that it would consider international exchange, dialogue and cooperation on these issues.

Transparency has been a sticking point between U.S. negotiators and the Chinese. The apparent opening came hours after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the United States would participate in a global climate fund to reach $100 billion a year by 2020. (See transcript here.)  The money would be used to help low income countries cope with the ills of climate change.

Neither Secretary Clinton nor Vice Minister He drew a direct link between the moves. Both announcements, though, reflected forward motion by the two countries. Together, China and the United States account for about 40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. For that reason, the two countries are regarded as essential to getting a global climate change accord.

President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed to forge a strategic partnership around climate and energy issues when they met last month in Beijing.

China's willingness to engage in a constructive way on the issue of international reporting and review reflects the spirit of the new partnership. We look forward to continued progress on this front.

About the Authors

Barbara Finamore

Senior Attorney and Asia Director, China program

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