COPENHAGEN — China’s climate negotiators have told Western counterparts they can’t agree to an “operational agreement” on climate change that President Barack Obama had hoped to bring home from Copenhagen –- and will push for a short, noncommittal collective statement at the end of the talks, according to American staffers briefed on the situation. It’s not clear if remarks by Chinese officials, made during negotiating sessions on Wednesday night, signal the end of efforts to reach a significant agreement or simply represent an 11th hour bargaining tactic less than a day before Obama was due to arrive in Copenhagen.
But U.S. officials fear it's the former, with little time left to negotiate a real deal before COP 15’s conclusion Friday.
Lead U.S. negotiator Todd Stern told POLITICO late Wednesday that his staff had not engaged in one-on-one “bilats” with China for a whole day – and hadn’t even addressed a major issue, a proposed “border tax” on countries that flouted international accords. That provision was included in the cap-and-trade measure the House passed in July – and no bill omitting it is likely to pass the Senate.
The apparent stalemate coincides with the arrival in Copenhagen of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a 20-member delegation of House members, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had viewed the trip as a triumph following the lower chamber’s summer passage of a sweeping climate change bill. (continues here)