Hollande and Xi to discuss climate at March summit

France and China leaders will discuss goals of 2015 UN Paris conference in meeting later this month

(Pic: Jmayrault/Flickr)

(Pic: Jmayrault/Flickr)

By Sophie Yeo in Bonn

Climate change will be high on the agenda when the Presidents of France and China meet in Paris later this month, RTCC understands.

Francois Hollande and Xi Jingping are expected to discuss their expectations for the 2015 UN climate deal, which is set to be signed off in the French capital next December.

Both countries will play a critical role in formulating the agreement, which is likely to involve intense negotiations, with nearly 200 countries making some level of greenhouse gas reduction commitments.

The last attempt to agree a global deal was at Copenhagen in 2009, which ended with the Danish hosts and China taking some of the blame for an unsuccessful outcome.

In an interview with Le Monde last week France Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he was “counting on our Chinese friends” to help prepare for the conference.

“They’re one of the keys. They account for a very significant share of global pollution and they say that, because of their very large population, pollution in relation to the number of inhabitants is no higher than elsewhere,” he said.

“When President Xi Jinping comes to France on an official visit at the end of March, it’s one of the main themes that will be discussed with the French President.”

Paul Watkinson, France’s chief delegate at UN climate talks taking place this week in Bonn, told RTCC the government is aware of its responsibilities ahead of 2015.

He said: “We in Bonn are very conscious that the role of a presidency is not to control or push its own interests and positions, that the way forward is more complex, and so we are doing a lot of outreach here to understand what people want from a deal.”

Slow progress

The success of the Paris summit will likely hinge on whether emission pledges are ambitious enough to avoid warming of 2C, a level scientists say could result in a dangerous increase in droughts, storms and ice melt.

China is the world’s largest emitter of climate warming gases, and is coming under increasing pressure to accept a cap or target under the new deal.

It says it will not make any new commitments until the EU and other rich nations agree to deliver $40 billion in climate finance by the end of 2014, and boost their 2020 targets to 40%.

France is currently involved in inter-EU negotiations over the bloc’s climate plans, which could see the region aim to cut emissions 40% by 2030, a 20% increase on its 2020 goal.

EU heads of state and government are expected to debate these ambitions when they meet in Brussels on March 20-21, while reports yesterday suggest a deadline for a decision may be set for the end of 2014.

China’s delegate to the UN climate talks taking place this week in Bonn says the country recognised the role of national mitigation targets, but said developing nations would need more assistance in these becoming a reality.

Zou Ji from China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy said: “To set up a cap, a target, is my dream, but very frankly I have to say, we are ready to explore the road towards these target.

He added: “We recognise the role of the total amount targets but we also see some conditions for these targets.”

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