"The Bottom Line :"
China has said it is not fair to ask for independent verification of emission-reducing actions not funded by outside aid.“We will do our own verification,” China’s Yu Qingtai, said in a Dec. 12 interview in Copenhagen.
-- President Barack Obama’s first closed-door meeting with world leaders in Copenhagen to forge an agreement to slow climate change had a notable absentee: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
While the U.S. leader and Wen later met privately for almost an hour, China’s premier didn’t show up for a second meeting with Obama and other leaders this afternoon, adding to speculation the world’s two biggest producers of greenhouse gases are far apart on an agreement to fight climate change.
Obama and Wen are now set to meet for a second one-on-one talk at 7 p.m. in Copenhagen, the U.S. administration said.
Negotiators from 193 countries are in the Danish capital for the United Nations talks, which are stuck on aid to developing countries facing damage from climate change, pollution-reduction goals and how to verify individual country’s pledges to cut harmful emissions.
“I have to be honest, as the world watches us today, I think our ability to take collective action is in doubt right now and it hangs in the balance,” Obama told more than 8,000 delegates in Copenhagen earlier today, where discussions are supposed to conclude at 6 p.m.
Wen, who spoke at the meeting’s morning plenary session before Obama, urged global cooperation in cutting carbon-dioxide pollution that many scientists say, if left unchecked, could lead to catastrophic climate shifts.
“To meet the climate change challenge the international community must strengthen confidence, build consensus, make vigorous effort and enhance cooperation,” Wen said.
Wen’s absence from the morning meeting with Obama and almost 20 other world leaders stemmed from displeasure with the U.S.’s demand that all major emitters verify their actions to cut greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, said a delegate who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the talks.
The leaders at the meeting included Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. China was represented by Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei. China’s Yu Qingtai, the country’s special representative on climate change, stood in for Wen in the afternoon.
Charlie Rangel, a U.S. congressman and chairman of the tax- writing House Ways and Means Committee, said the U.S. and China both said the right things about fighting climate change.
“The spirit of what they’re saying is encouraging, but I don’t know what it’s going to take to make it work,” Rangel said in an interview in Copenhagen.
Obama has put $100 billion in climate aid for developing nations on the table in Copenhagen. The U.S. has said funds to help poor countries cope with climate change hinges on the willingness of major emitters such as China to allow third-party verification of its actions to cut emissions.
The U.K.’s Brown is mediating between China and the U.S., according to Paul Bengo, chief of staff to Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare.