This week marks a first for China – the first time that the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and therefore (you can argue) the country whose decisions will most affect the global climate over the next few decades, has hosted a meeting of the UN climate convention.
Richard Black | BBC
Whether the location will play a part in the progress of the talks is an unknown at this point.
Will China use the stage to announce a measure that could rebuild trust in the fractured UN process, such as tighter regulations on energy efficiency or concessions on international verification of its emissions?
Will it tighten the verbal screws on industrialised nations, especially the US, which it says have not lived up to their pledges on the issue?
Answers may materialise by the end of the week, along with signs of whether trust and progress are on an upward or downward path as December’s summit in Cancun, Mexico, looms.
What is certain, though, is that almost a year after the Copenhagen summit, there is tangible fear among some long-time observers that the UN process is close to becoming moribund.
As one such observer recently said privately:
“We are now on the edge of seeing the entire international climate regime system disintegrate and fail more or less irreversibly.”