China has big role
in success of Paris talks: EU official
China has an important role in the success of the United Nations Conference on Climate Protection in Paris, said the head of the European Parliament's China delegation.
Jo Leinen said the decisions of Chinese authorities to peak emissions not later than 2030 and the readiness of the government to participate in a five-year review process of the voluntary national emission reduction targets are a clear message to the world. "Investments in carbon friendly technologies can help to accelerate the decarbonisation of our economies," he said in an interview.
Leinen is urging Beijing and other participants at the Paris talks to be "ambitious and decisive".
"This is a very important climate conference and we know that without China and without the European Union, there will be no climate deal, so I hope that our diplomats can work together,'' he said.
The Paris summit can be a "historic moment" , but any pledges must be followed by "concrete steps", Leinen said.
Brussels and Beijing need to increase their commitments to reach their climate goals, he said. "If in Paris the biggest emitters — the United States and China — turn up with ambitious goals and objectives, I expect Europe to step up its efforts," he said.
The challenge at the Paris summit is clear, Leinen declared:
"China and all states need to agree on the basis for an international binding climate treaty. Until now, China (and the United States) have been blocking the way, but it seems that now, they take climate change more seriously. As the biggest world polluters, their contribution will be crucial.
"All parties involved in the COP 21, including China, will have to work constructively to develop the basic elements of the agreement and we, as Europeans, should play a key role".
Leinen, who formerly chaired the EU Parliament's committee on environment, said that as the world's biggest emitters, China and the EU must "remain on the front line and broker the best possible deal."
"Paris will test EU diplomacy. A sort of 'Paris alliance' for a legally binding climate deal should be established in order to guarantee success," he said.
"We in Europe would like to see China hit the high point of its CO2 emissions earlier than 15 years from now as we are aware that the announced peak year of 2030 represents a conservative estimate," said Leinen, who has been a European Parliament member since 1999 representing Germany
The EU and China are already cooperating on climate protection, including technology transfer, power generation, transportation and building pilot projects in China for emissions trading.
Leinen said he hopes this cooperation can be further strengthened. But he said a number of issues remian unresolved, such as the financing of global climate protection and commitments by individual countries.
He said that finding the money is one of the main challenges, adding, "Who is going to come up with the hundreds of billions of euros that will have to be presented in Paris?"
The 28-member EU, said Leinen, will have the responsibility of overcoming differences between developing and industrialized countries and can be a bridge-builder between the two. Paris will be a "tough test for the EU's capacity to lead climate diplomacy," he said.
A lot more trust needs to be created among all parties if a "roadmap" for the financing of global climate protection beyond 2020 is to be established, Leinen said, adding that financial commitments are crucial for the developing countries' readiness to accept a compromise.
He said that after the failure of the climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009, the EU cannot afford another failure because "mankind is running the risk of losing the race against global warming and to not be able to contain it to a maximum of 2°C."
"There is big hope that the COP 21 in Paris will be a big success," Leinen said. "We have no time to lose. China will be a decisive partner to find a solution that respects the common but differentiated responsibility for climate protection and that includes in the end all countries of the planet with their individual contributions to the common good, which is the atmosphere surrounding the Earth."