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Joint climate statement hazy

Wed., Nov. 18, 2009

Copenhagen climate summit just weeks away

BEIJING – A joint statement by the U.S. and Chinese presidents on climate change is encouraging as pressure builds in the last few weeks before a 192-nation conference in Copenhagen, but the language leaves a lot unsaid, observers in both countries said today.

The world’s two largest polluters talked Tuesday of a joint desire to tackle climate change, but failed to publicly address the root problems that could unravel a deal at the Dec. 7-18 conference – mainly, how much each country can contribute to emissions cuts and how the world will pay for it.

The joint statement by President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao has positive language about aiming for a comprehensive deal, “but it leaves a lot of room for different interpretations, ranging from a real ambitious climate rescue deal to another meaningless declaration,” said Ailun Yang, climate campaign manager for Greenpeace China. “The real test still at Copenhagen.”

Three weeks remain before the global conference that aims for a deal to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which required 37 industrial countries to cut heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.

The Copenhagen agreement would require developing countries such as China to curb emissions growth as well.

In a joint statement, Obama and Hu said Copenhagen should produce a comprehensive agreement that would “include emission reduction targets of developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries.”

Timothy Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation, a charity group that promotes U.N. causes, praised the U.S.-China joint statement for saying a deal at Copenhagen should include emission reduction targets by developed countries, but he stressed the urgency of finding a final agreement.

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