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China says studying weaker framework climate deal
(For Reuters global climate change coverage [ID:nCLIMATE])
BEIJING Nov 6 (Reuters) - China is weighing the prospect of reaching only a framework agreement at U.N. climate talks this December, but would want guarantees that principles laid out in previous deals would be retained, a top diplomat said on Friday.
Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said that there are serious challenges for the negotiations, which will be held in Copenhagen next month and were originally supposed to set out a new global framework to tackle global warming from 2013.
In the face of massive disagreements between key players, including the United States and China, there has been a growing sense that ambitions might need to be scaled back.
World leaders have said in recent days that Copenhagen could agree a politically binding deal rather than a full legally binding treaty. At preliminary talks in Spain this week, negotiators suggested extensions from three months to a year or more.
"Of course some countries, including Denmark, have proposed considering a political agreement that would include the commitments and points of consensus of each country. We are studying this issue," He told a news briefing in Beijing.
"The Copenhagen negotiations certainly do face some difficulties, but we shouldn't despair or give up and assume that Copenhagen can't possibly achieve results."
He added that if the outcome is a framework deal, then China wants to ensure subsequent negotiations also respect the Kyoto Protocol, the current international agreement on climate change, especially the principle that all nations have common but differentiated responsibilities to tackle climate change.
He said China would also seek to tie down in a preliminary deal any points that have been agreed in principle on issues including technology transfer, funding and curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
"If we have to keep negotiating, and I think that is a possibility, then this document should provide constructive guidance for the next stage," He said.
Delegates at a U.N. climate meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in Dec 2007 set a two-year deadline to agree on a broader deal meant to fight a rise in temperatures, more floods, droughts or rising sea levels.
But recession has hit many nations and carbon-capping legislation in the United States, the biggest emitter after China, is unlikely to be ready this year despite a vote by a Senate panel on Thursday in favour of a Democratic climate bill.
After Copenhagen, the next meeting of environment ministers is in Mexico in December 2010. (Reporting by Chris Buckley; Writing by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by David Fogarty)
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