Chapter 18: China
As the leading emitter of greenhouse gases, China is arguably the most important player in international climate change negotiations. Emphasizing its status as a developing country, China has traditionally demonstrated an aversion to legally binding emission limits. Arguing in favor of the common but differentiated responsibility principle (CBDR), which holds that developed countries bear the principal obligation for combating climate change, China has consistently avoided commitments while urging developed countries to increase the ambition of its own reduction pledges and financial assistance. However, over time China has made some key compromises, and particularly since the Copenhagen talks in 2009, China’s position has softened. Both China’s considerable investment in green technology and its expanding web of domestic climate change initiatives contribute to this change. Pressure from the international community, and especially from the developing world, have also added to the evolution of China’s climate change diplomacy. This chapter assesses the evolution of China’s position in climate change negotiations and highlights the key factors influencing its approach to international climate change politics.
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