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Climate talks: Clinton promises aid to poor nations – but China may resist

At the Copenhagen climate talks Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US could provide billions in aid to help poorer nations convert to clean technologies. But that's only if countries like China agree to monitoring of their climate change efforts.

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"China has positioned itself in solidarity with the rest of the developing world. The US has responded to one of the major concerns developing countries have," says Dr. Deutz, referring to calls from poor countries for dedicated aid to help them adapt to the effects of global warming, as well as to buy the technologies they will need to lift their populations out of poverty in a climate-friendly way.

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Now, he says, "the major quid-pro-quo will have to come from China."

"We do need China to accept transparency as part of this process," said US Rep. Ed Markey (D) of Massachusetts, who was in Copenhagen for the day with House colleagues, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) of California. "It is going to be indispensable. It ensures that every country in the world is doing their fair share."

Lawmakers in the US are likely to look for Chinese assurance as they continue to push energy and climate legislation through the Senate. Many lawmakers are worried that an agreement that doesn't include the Asian giant in a verifiable way would give China an unfair advantage in world markets. A clear signal that China will accept international verification could ease that concern among lawmakers.

The aid offer was something of a bank shot, says Alden Meyer, director of policy and planning for the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington – a fire-sale offer good for two days and two days only.

The approach appears to have prompted the Chinese to budge a bit from their hardline stand. At a briefing this afternoon, China's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs He Yafei said China will not allow monitoring of projects it pays for itself, but will allow monitoring on projects that are paid for with international assistance. He added that "trust is extremely important."

"We are willing to enhance and improve ways of national communication," he said, referring to the reporting procedures countries undertake as part
of the UN climate process. "We also are willing in a voluntary fashion to have explanations and clarifications if need be" in response to questions from outside the country.

How far China is willing to go on verification remains to be seen. Assuming the final agreement contains stout language on verification, several observers suggest that the details of establishing a regime for monitoring, reporting, and verifying actions developing countries and the US take likely will be punted into next year, when negotiators are expected to work out the legal language for a formal climate-treaty companion to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.