Bickering between the U.S. and China continues to mar global climate-change talks after small progress on financially aiding efforts in developing nations was made this past week at a summit in China.
Top U.S. climate change negotiator Todd Stern — speaking at the University of Michigan Law School on Friday — said China is ignoring pledges made in a non-binding climate change accord in Copenhagen last December that was reached after a face-to-face meeting between President Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
Chinese officials have acted as though the agreement “never happened,” Stern said, as quoted by Bloomberg.
Stern said Beijing cannot insist that developed nations adopt fixed targets to cut greenhouse-gas emissions with China and other major developing nations agreeing only to voluntary domestic goals.
Chinese officials fired back at Stern’s criticism, which occurred as weeklong climate talks among about 175 nations were close to wrapping up in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin.
Su Wei, a senior Chinese climate-change negotiator, likened the criticism to Zhubajie, a pig featured in a traditional Chinese novel, which preens itself in a mirror.
"It has no measures or actions to show for itself, and instead it criticizes China, which is actively taking measures and actions," Su said of the United States, as reported by Reuters.
Su said Stern’s claims were diverting attention from the failure of the U.S. to make big cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions.
"In fact, it amounts to doing nothing themselves and then shirking responsibility. They want to place the blame on China and other developing countries," Su told reporters in Tianjin, according to Reuters.
China has surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gasses.
Environmental groups lamented the fact that only small progress was made at the gathering in Tianjin ahead of the next U.N. summit in Cancún, Mexico, this December.
“This meeting exposed the deep structural issues of the U.N. climate negotiations, and it’s unclear whether countries will be able to rise above these issues by Cancún,” Environmental Defense Fund’s lead climate advocate Jennifer Haverkamp said in a statement after the talks officially ended late Saturday. “Cancún must put us back on a track to an eventual comprehensive approach to reducing global emissions and achieving climate safety.”
"The forecast is still cloudy, but rays of sunlight are just starting to peak through,” Jennifer Morgan, climate and energy director of the World Resources Institute, posted in a blog. She noted “further clarity” on some issues, with progress made on financing, technology and adaptation.
“On the other hand, a number of the most difficult issues, such as mitigation, remain,” she blogged. “The patches of sunlight will need to grow over the coming weeks if Cancun is going to achieve real progress toward an international agreement on global warming."