Sat, Dec 26, 2009 - Page 9 News List

How intransigent China wrecked climate talks

Brutal power politics made sure that the deal on the environment at Copenhagen was gutted — and the finger of blame was pointed at the West

By Mark Lynas  /  THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

This does not mean China is not serious about global warming. It is strong in both the wind and solar industries. But China’s growth, and growing global political and economic dominance, is based largely on cheap coal. China knows it is becoming an uncontested superpower; indeed its newfound muscular confidence was on striking display in Copenhagen. Its coal-based economy doubles every decade, and its power increases commensurately. Its leadership will not alter this magic formula unless they absolutely have to.

Copenhagen was much worse than just another bad deal, because it illustrated a profound shift in global geopolitics. This is fast becoming China’s century, yet its leadership has displayed that multilateral environmental governance is not only not a priority, but is viewed as a hindrance to the new superpower’s freedom of action.

I left Copenhagen more despondent than I have felt in a long time. After all the hope and all the hype, the mobilization of thousands, a wave of optimism crashed against the rock of global power politics, fell back, and drained away.

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