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New world climate deal on track, China's efforts "encouraging": EU official


The world is on track to reach a new deal on climate change in 2015 and China's efforts in carbon emission cuts are "encouraging", the European Union's top climate official said in a recent interview with Xinhua.


"It's going to be challenging to get this ambitious deal the world needs in Paris," said Connie Hedegaard, the EU commissioner for climate action, referring to 2015 talks to secure a new global climate deal that may have legally-binding targets on emission cuts for all countries in the post-2020 period.
The Kyoto Protocol, the first global document with legally-binding targets for developed countries, will be replaced by the new deal after its second commitment period ends in 2020.
But progress is being made across the world as more and more countries understand that doing nothing about climate change would come with a very high price, Hedegaard added, citing the alarming example of the recent typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines.
As one of the most powerful storms ever recorded on land, claiming thousands of lives, Haiyan was the focus of much attention at the United Nations' annual climate conference, which ended ten days ago in Warsaw. All parties agreed to set up a loss and damage assessment mechanism to help the most vulnerable countries, but no detailed plans have yet been agreed upon.
The Warsaw conference managed to get the process on track ahead of the 2015 negotiations in Paris, Hedegaard said, despite the fact that many developing countries had expressed disappointment at the unwillingness of developed countries to honor their financial commitments and pledge further emission cuts.
All countries are required to identify their national targets on emission cuts after 2020, said the commissioner.
"In good time before Paris, we can see all the different pledges at table, and then we must see if this adds up to enough combined efforts," she added.
The Warsaw conference was to lay the groundwork for the deal to further stave off dangerous global warming, and all parties agreed to prepare "intended nationally determined contributions" -- while Japan ironically announced the scaling down of its 2020 target.
The Paris deal must stick to the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities," Hedegaard stressed, while proposing that the way that all parties are legally bound should be maintained for the post-2020 agenda.
The Kyoto Protocol has so far only been joined by the EU and a few other developed countries.
"Rich countries, developed countries, they should be doing more than developing countries... The efforts, the level of ambition can be different," she said.
Europe was encouraged to see China and many others making great efforts towards a low-carbon economy, she added.
The bilateral cooperation on climate would be further strengthened, while Europe, where the world's first emission trading system was born, would continue to facilitate the build-up of China's emission trading system in the near future, Hedegaard said.
Europe remains ambitious to further "lead by example" in the global fight against climate change both before and after the year 2020, the commissioner said.
"We are almost alone in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, but Europe accepts that... And we are also working on our 2030 targets," she said.
Both policymakers and Europeans are convinced that fighting climate change can benefit the economy in the future and help Europe move towards resource efficiency and sustainable growth, said Hedegaard.
In fact, the EU has earmarked 20 percent of its entire budget for climate-related areas in the 2014-2020 period. Rather than being parked in a corner of the EU budget, climate action is to be integrated into all of the major spending areas, including energy, environment, transport, research, agriculture, and development, she said.
"We won't get development and growth the world needs in the 21st century, unless we understand the impact of climate change and get it right," she said.


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