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What China expects from the Copenhagen climate talks

An interview with Chinese Ambassador to Switzerland Dong Jinyi.


Is this enough to solve the problem?

Dong Jinyi: No, it is not enough, but before you proceed with a plan, you need to have enough experience to know that it works. Every time you introduce something new, you need to test it first. If these projects are successful, we will expand them.

GlobalPost: Is China is working with the United States on some of these projects?

Dong Jinyi: Yes. We have been cooperating for several years, we signed the Framework for Ten Year Cooperation on Energy and Environment (“TYF”) on June 18, 2008, and during the visit of President Obama, we signed a memorandum of understanding enhancing cooperation on climate change, energy and the environment. We will be doing research on the clean use of coal, aiming at zero emissions. China gets roughly 70 percent of its energy from coal. If we can succeed in reducing the emissions it will be extremely worthwhile. Sequestering the emissions from coal is a complicated process, but scientists believe that we can achieve this. By simply reducing the intensity of energy use, China can save 620 million tons of coal over the next five years. That is the equivalent of cutting 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, or a reduction of 300 million tons of CO2 annually. Compared to other countries, China is a leader in reducing emissions.

GlobalPost: Many of the rural villages in China depend on coal for heating. Isn’t this a source of pollution?

Dong Jinyi: We have a program to develop biogas for the rural areas, which has been under development for several years. It is working in many areas, and it is working well. People in the countryside appreciate it because the cost is low.

GlobalPost: But China is resisting fixed limits on its overall emissions?

Dong Jinyi: It is very difficult to calculate over a long period of time. We can say that we will do this in 50 years, but who knows who will still be here in 50 years? We don’t want to make empty promises. We want concrete action. Industrialized countries can make accurate predictions, because they are already at a developed level and they have an economic situation that is different. The poor countries, and the developing countries, need to have real industries in order to grow, and it is difficult to calculate.

GlobalPost: And the Obama visit?

Dong Jinyi: It was very successful. All of the discussions were cordial, frank and fruitful. It was important for the leaders to get to know and better understand each other.

GlobalPost: During the press conference it was mentioned that there were some important differences.

Dong Jinyi: Certainly, ideologically we are different. We have different cultural systems and approaches to government. That did not prevent a frank dialogue.

GlobalPost: There were reports that the students who met President Obama were carefully selected.

Dong Jinyi: We have 7 million students who graduate every year. Of course, we had to make a selection, but it was not based on ideology. We have 100,000 students studying in the U.S. and 10,000 American students studying in China. Mr. Obama said during his visit that he plans to expand the number of Americans studying in China over the next four years. It was a very successful visit.

GlobalPost: Do you see a difference between the administration of President Obama and that of former President Bush?

Dong Jinyi: They have different styles, and their way of seeing things is different. I think that the approach of the Obama administration is better. President Obama is more open to discussion and making contact, and more democratic.