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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Hope, but No Advances, in China-U.S. Climate Talks

June 1, 2009

By ANDREW JACOBS
New York Times
May 28, 2009

BEIJING -- Five days of talks aimed at bringing
China and the United States closer together on
the issue of climate change did not yield
substantial progress, according to a
Congressional delegation that met with
environmental officials and the country’s top leaders this week.

During a news conference on Thursday night, Nancy
Pelosi, the speaker of House, said she was
"hopeful" after meeting with a number of
officials, including President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

But Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, a
Wisconsin Republican who took part, said he was
discouraged by the Chinese refusal to commit to
greater cuts in greenhouse gases while insisting
that developed nations do more to reduce their emissions.

"It’s business as usual for China," said Mr.
Sensenbrenner, the ranking Republican on the
House Select Committee for Energy Independence
and Global Warming. “The message that I received
was that China was going to do it their way
regardless of what the rest of the world negotiates in Copenhagen.”

He was referring to the United Nations summit on
climate change to be held in Denmark this year,
the successor to the meeting in Kyoto, Japan,
which produced the last global warming agreement
in 1997. In previous statements, China has
suggested that developed nations reduce emissions
by 40 percent by 2020 from 1995 levels. By
contrast, Mr. Sensenbrenner said, Chinese
officials have linked their proposed reductions
to the size of China’s economy, which is growing
significantly. The resulting math, he said, would
mean “a significant increase in emissions in China.”

China and the United States are responsible for
nearly half the world’s output of carbon gases,
although many scientists say the Chinese share is
larger and growing at a rapid pace due to its
reliance on coal-fired power plants.

In addition to discussing climate change, Ms.
Pelosi said she raised a number of issues during
her talks with Chinese leaders, including
intellectual property rights, human rights and
North Korea’s test of a nuclear device on Monday.

While she did not provide details of those talks,
she described them as "candid" and said they
included such delicate topics as Tibet and
China’s rights record. She said she had
“encouraged conversations with his holiness, the
Dalai Lama, or his representatives.” Until
Thursday, Ms. Pelosi, who is known here for her
strident criticisms of China’s human rights
record, had not spoken about the issue in public
statements or during an appearance before
students and faculty at Tsinghua University.

Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts
Democrat who is chairman of the House global
warming committee, acknowledged that without
significant concessions from China, Congress
might be disinclined to act on its own package of emissions limits.

But after years of American intransigence on
global warming, Mr. Markey said he thought China
would be influenced by the Obama administration’s
commitment to the issue. “We leave here with some
sense that we can reach an agreement,” he said,
although he added a caveat. “This is going to be
on one of the most complex diplomatic
negotiations in the history of the world,” he said.

Not everyone involved in the discussions was so
pessimistic. During a news conference earlier in
the day, Senator John Kerry said he was
encouraged by Chinese leaders’ commitment to
tackling climate change. He noted that China in
recent years had tripled its capacity for wind
generation, enacted vehicle fuel standards
tougher than those in America and closed hundreds
of obsolete, coal-fired power plants. “It’s
unequivocally the most constructive and
productive discussions I’ve ever had with Chinese officials,” he said.
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