It Doesn’t Matter if You are Big or Small

It’s already the fourth day of the second week of COP! While everyone has been working hard with our clients, we also try our best to follow the trend in this year’s negotiation and learn as much as we could by reaching out and talking to the climate experts at the venue. In addition to sitting in on John Kerry’s speech, today we are lucky enough to meet with delegates from Singapore and China. It’s quite an experience to listen to authentic voice from different perspectives.

Singapore, a Southeast Asian city state, is a member of SIDS (small island developing states). The economy is heavily trade and services orientated and the country is also heavily dependent on imports in terms of food, water, and energy. “Just Imagine Manhattan without Upstate New York,” said Vivian Balakrishnan, the Minister of Environment and Water of Singapore, “We need to buy everything from our neighboring countries, food, water, and natural gas. We work hard to pay for these and that’s why we never take what we have for granted. ” As a city state, Singapore contributes very little to the global emissions. Still, Singapore is very involved in the multilateral dialogue and seeks to push the negotiation forward. “We hope to see an agreement at the end of this COP.” When asked what is the priority on Singapore’s agenda, the Minister says that all countries, especially the US, China, and India, who are the major emitters but exempt from Kyoto Protocol, needs to take the lead to set up the foundation for 2015 and beyond.

On the other hand, China, the country that has the third largest territory and the largest population in the world, has drawn much attention internationally after the joint announcement on a Climate deal with the U.S.. “You have to remember that this is not a result of negotiation,” said Mr. Shi Guohui, the deputy Director of China NGO Network for International Exchange, “It is the two countries for the first time to join hand in hand to fulfill our responsibilities and set good examples for the rest of the world.” China faces complex challenges ahead, which is how to balance the economic development and pollution. The “old path”, or “pollute first, then clean up later” is no longer viable for developing economies. Even though China installed almost half of the world’s newly added renewable energy capacity in the last 5 years, this is not enough. Coal still accounts for about 70 percent of the energy production. China must find its way out by transforming the energy sector from coal-dominated towards renewable energy and clean technology.

From the Chinese delegations perspective, the “noise” and some loud voices in this COP, is rather counterproductive. “Words are important. But we believe action speaks louder than words. So instead of spending so much time on discussing what should happen after 2015, why can’t we just finish our job for right now? We are running out of time.” said Mr. Shi.