Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Ed Miliband: China hijacked Copenhagen climate change deal

British Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband has accused China of "hijacking" the Copenhagen summit and preventing a legally binding treaty desired by most of the world.

Mr Miliband said Beijing had "vetoed" moves to give legal force to the accord reached at the UN-sponsored climate change summit on Saturday.

And he said that it was China too which prevented agreement on 50% global reductions in greenhouse emissions - 80% in the most developed countries - by 2050.

Mr Miliband's comments came as the BBC reported that Prime Minister Gordon Brown will use a podcast tomorrow to say that a small group of countries held the Copenhagen talks to ransom.

The two-week summit ended on Saturday with an accord which agreed on the aim of keeping average increases in global temperatures below 2C, but did not set out the emissions cuts which each country will undertake to deliver it.

There was agreement on a fund, to reach 100 billion US dollars by 2020, to help poorer countries deal with global warming, but no precise detail on where the money will come from.

Writing in The Guardian, Mr Miliband said that "the vast majority of countries, developed and developing" believed that a legally-binding treaty was needed to construct a lasting accord to protect the planet.

But he said: "Some leading developing countries currently refuse to countenance this. That is why we did not secure an agreement that the political accord struck in Copenhagen should lead to a legally binding outcome.

"We did not get an agreement on 50% reductions in global emissions by 2050 or on 80% reductions by developed countries. Both were vetoed by China, despite the support of a coalition of developed and the vast majority of developing countries."

Mr Miliband said that the Copenhagen talks were characterised by "a chaotic process dogged by procedural games" which were "a cover for points of serious, substantive disagreement".

And he suggested that the format of future talks may have to be changed to prevent a minority of countries blocking progress.

"Together we will make clear to those countries holding out against a binding legal treaty that we will not allow them to block global progress," said Mr Miliband.

"The last two weeks at times have presented a farcical picture to the public.

"We cannot again allow negotiations on real points of substance to be hijacked in this way.

"We will need to have major reform of the UN body overseeing the negotiations and of the way the negotiations are conducted."

Despite his frustrations, Mr Miliband insisted that Britain was right to sign the limited Copenhagen accord, which he said delivered "real outcomes" on temperature rises and finance.

"We should take heart from the achievements and step up our efforts," he said.

"The road from Copenhagen will have as many obstacles as the road to it. But this year has proved what can be done, as well as the scale of the challenge we face."

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