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Propelling the Durban climate talks - China announces willingness to consider legally binding commitments post-2020

When China launched its first official pavilion at a UN climate conference on Sunday, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat Cristiana Figueres was there alongside China’s NDRC Vice Minister Xie Zhenhua to cut the ribbon. Swarmed by journalists in the standing-room only conference center of the China pavilion in Durban, Figueres applauded China for being a “trend-setter” in global renewable energy, resonating around the world and during the first week of climate negotiations in Durban.

Bridging Gaps in Durban: What Can China do?

Interview with China energy expert Jiang Kejun, Energy Research Institute, NDRC

As the first week of the UN climate negotiations in Durban are underway, one of the most persistent themes has been how to bridge gaps - the divide between the developed and developing countries, many of whom disagree about whether the Kyoto Protocol should be extended into a second commitment period; the hole in climate finance pledges from developed countries; and the ambition or emissions gap between the Copenhagen pledges and the stabilization of global temperatures below a 2 degrees Celsius increase from pre-industrial levels.

Looking to Durban: China’s Climate Change Policy Progress Since Cancun

As its negotiators head to Durban, South Africa for the next round of the UNFCCC climate negotiations, China can point to significant progress in domestic climate policy since the Cancun negotiations a year ago. March, 2011 saw the adoption of China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, binding domestically China’s first phase of its Copenhagen and Cancun commitments to reduce its carbon intensity 40 to 45 percent by 2020. In this first year of the new Five Year Plan, China also adopted a number of specific climate-related implementation measures (For a more exhaustive list, see China’s just published White Paper on its climate change activities).

China, US, other APEC Leaders Sign Commitment to Slash Tariffs on Green Goods and Services

At the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hawaii last week, Chinese President Hu Jintao joined US President Obama and other APEC leaders in signing a pledge to cut tariffs on an undesignated list of environmental goods and services to 5 percent by 2015. APEC members also pledged to eliminate domestic content requirements on goods and services by 2012. Together, the 21 APEC economies account for 60 percent of global trade in environmental goods and services, and the global market for environmental technologies in 2008 represented $782 billion, with nearly $300 billion in the US, according to a US Commerce Department estimate. A spokesman for one organization representing US manufacturers hailed the commitment as a “huge” outcome. Read the full story at Reuters

Chinese Air Pollution Update: Ministry of Environmental Protection Proposes Additional Regulation for Particulates

Just last week the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) announced public consultation for new regulations that would establish a standard for small particulate matter (PM 2.5), an important public health advance. China’s official media outlet Xinhua reported the new standard, which MEP proposes bringing into effect nationwide by 2016, and that Shanghai believes its monitoring capacity is sufficiently ahead of this timeline to implement as early as next year. We have heard elsewhere that Beijing, too, is likely to move earlier than 2016. MEP’s announcement and an FAQ describing the policy are already on the web in Chinese, but the English-language website has not yet been updated. The Xinhua report also noted the importance of public pressure in bringing about environmental improvements.

What’s Going On With Beijing’s Air Quality?

Beijing’s poor air quality earlier this month, akin to what was routinely seen in Los Angeles in the 1950s and 1960s, garnered global headlines. Both Chinese and international press have focused on the differences in monitoring between China’s air quality index and a monitor for small particulates located at the US Embassy in Beijing.

Global Growth – the Story at China Wind Power 2011

China once again hosted its largest wind power expo, China Wind 2011, surpassing last year’s exhibition with the number of companies and the exhibition floor space increasing by 50%. Not surprisingly for an event in Beijing, the China market continued to be a major focus, but this year there was much more sense of a global market with increasing interest in new emerging markets, in particular Latin America.