Tough negotiations remain, but the world is in a better position to reach a climate deal in Paris than it was in the run-up to the failed Copenhagen talks in 2009, Todd Stern, US special envoy on climate change, said Friday.
Stern spoke to reporters in Beijing after two days of talks with senior Chinese officials, including Zhang Yong, who recently replaced Xie Zhenhua as China’s top climate official.
He cited the good relationship between China and the United States on climate change, which led to the deal between presidents Obama and Xi last November, as one reason he thought a deal could be done in Paris.
“We are working on a closer and more cooperative basis than we ever have before, but we are not on the same page on every question,” he said.
He added there was good momentum in the talks, with all major nations expected to deliver their plans and targets over the coming months.
The visit was Stern’s first meeting with Zhang after he took over from Xie, who had led China’s delegation to UNFCCC talks for nearly a decade and developed a close personal relationship with Stern.
Zhang is widely expected to take over Xie’s role as lead negotiator as well as his domestic responsibilities.
“I don’t have any reason to think Vice Minister Xie’s retirement is going to have an impact on China’s position,” Stern said, while praising Xie for his effectiveness.
“I was favorably impressed by Zhang,” he said about the man who is widely expected to also be China’s new chief negotiator.
The appointment of Zhang has lifted some eyebrows in China as he has no prior experience with climate change issues.
The special envoy added that the United States still aims to submit its INDC to the UN by the end of this month, although he did not specify a date.
By Stian Reklev – email@example.com