China and France say Paris climate pact should have five-year reviews

French president François Hollande claimed China and France had taken a "historic" step towards tackling climate change on Monday after the two countries agreed any deal reached in Paris next month should include checks on whether signatories are keeping their commitments to reduce emissions.

In a joint statement released weeks before the United Nations Climate Change Conference, China and France said such progress should be reviewed every five years in order to “reinforce mutual confidence and promote efficient implementation”.

“The Paris agreement must send out a clear signal for the world to transition to green and low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable development,” the two countries said, also calling for an “ambitious and legally binding” deal in Paris.

The statement – which described climate change as “one of the greatest challenges facing humanity” – came at the end of the first day of a two-day visit to China by Hollande.

“What we have just established here in this declaration is a likelihood that the Paris conference will succeed,” the French president told reporters. “That doesn’t mean that the Paris conference is definitely going to be a success, but the conditions for success have been laid down in Beijing today.”

“This visit is historic. And I am weighing my words,” he added, according to AFP.
Hollande arrived in China on Monday for a meeting with president Xi Jinping intended to shore up Chinese support for next month’s climate talks.

Before meeting Xi at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Hollande travelled to the south-western city of Chongqing where he visited a sewage treatment plant, according to the state-run People’s Daily newspaper.

Speaking there, the French president said China’s backing was “essential” for any deal that might be reached at the Paris conference, which runs from 30 November until 11 December.

“The fight against global warming is a humanitarian issue – how the planet can be preserved – and it is also an issue of considerable economic importance, of what we call ‘green growth’,” he reportedly said.

Hollande said he hoped the Paris talks would produce “a global and ambitious agreement that will allow global warming to be limited to two degrees”.

Critics, including many European countries, accused China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, of derailing climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009 by opposing any move to make emissions cuts legally binding.

Ahead of next month’s talks in Paris there is greater optimism about Beijing’s possible role.

In June China pledged that, by 2030, it would cut its CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% compared to 2005 levels.

China is also aiming to hit “peak emissions” by 2030.

Environmental group Greenpeace described Monday’s joint statement as “an incremental step forward, while highlighting the ambition gap the world still needs to bridge”.

“Exactly four weeks before world leaders convene in Paris, it is encouraging to see the ball rolling and diplomacy nudging us a small step forward,” said Li Shuo, Greenpeace’s China climate policy advisor.

“Moreover, with the recent decline in coal consumption and robust renewable energy development, China is positioning itself at the front of climate leadership. This is drastically different from six years ago in Copenhagen.”

“However, for Paris to be a success, a far bigger stretch is needed,” Li added. “After waving goodbye to President Hollande tomorrow, Chinese leaders need to think hard about what more to bring to the table when they see him again in Paris at the end of this month.”

In a statement, Jean-François Julliard, the executive director of Greenpeace France said: “This is no time for champagne. This bilateral statement should be another springboard instead of the last word for the Paris agreement.”

“What the world needs in Paris is a global long-term vision of a 100% renewable energy supply, for all, by mid-century and increased ambition by countries every five years starting from now.”

Tom Phillips for the Guardian

This article first appeared on the Guardian website

edie is part of the Guardian environment network

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie