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There have been a few news stories out of Durban suggesting that China (the worlds largest CO2 emitter) has turned a corner on carbon emissions and has tentatively agreed to limit them, with Bloomberg running an article titled “China Climate Plan Makes ‘Excited Buzz’ as U.S. Lags: UN Envoy.” What did China actually say?

Ron Bailey, Reason magazine science correspondent reports:

So here’s what China apparently wants the rest of the world to do: (1) agree that China’s greenhouse gas targets can be different from those imposed on rich countries, (2) agree that for the next 9 years rich countries will continue to cut their greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol while China’s continue to grow, (3) agree that no negotiations take place on targets until a scientific review is finished in 2015, and (4) agree that rich countries begin showering poor countries with $100 billion in climate reparations annually. If the rich countries will just do that, China will consent to begin negotiating some kind of “legally binding” treaty after 2020. Frankly, with these preconditions, it seems that China’s current position actually remains pretty much what it has always been: It will accept legally binding limits on its greenhouse gas emissions when Hell freezes over.

China’s best offer is to consider limiting emissions after 2020, still almost a decade away, and only if all the other countries continue to play this game until then. Who can blame them — they are rapidly industrializing and getting wealthier, which requires massive amounts of fossil fuels.

What if future negotiations aren’t successful? China is currently ‘negotiating’ with other countries regarding their annual emissions, it just so happens they are offering zero emissions reductions. Where is the evidence that they will agree to anything sufficient in 2020, when their per capita incomes will still be markedly lower than other developed countries?