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Asia-Pacific

France and China agree to checks on emissions-cutting compliance

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Chinese president Xi Jinping (C) and French president Francois Hollande (R) in Beijing, 2 November 2015. Reuters/Jason Lee

China and France have agreed to include compliance checks in the international climate change agreement that will be negotiated in Paris in December. French President Francois Hollande is in China to secure China's commitment to the COP21 conference. The conference is meant to get countries to agree on carbon emissions reductions, with the aim of capping global warming to two degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial revolution levels.

Countries have submitted their commitments to emissions cuts, but there is consensus that the aggregate cuts are still not enough. UN climate chief Christiana Figueres has called on countries to ramp up emissions cuts every few years.

During Holland's visit to China on Monday, Beijing agreed in principle that at the very least, countries should have to show what they are doing to meet their initial commitments.

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In a joint statement both France and China said progress should be reviewed every five years. Beijing called for the checks to be "non-intrusive, non-punitive and respecting national sovereignty".

Hollande’s visit to China is part of a drive to secure commitments.

According to Cyril Cassisa, a project manager for the French energy consultant Enerdata who was recently working on climate issues for French foreign affairs in Beijing, Hollande's trip to China shows he is communicating with the Chinese.

"I don’t think the visit by Francois Hollande will help to change the China’s commitments," says Cassisa, "but French diplomacy will help a better communication on what’s behind the commitments.”

In June the world’s biggest polluter and the second-biggest economy pledged to reduce emissions by 60 to 65 per cent over 15 years. China was one of 146 countries to submit an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, or INDC, in October, indicating their emissions cutting goals.

China wants market solutions, for example, and has been experimenting with cap-and-trade policies. By endorsing such policies, says Cassisa, France could help China move forward.

Business as usual

The French president is travelling with a delegation of 40 French business leaders.

“The fight against global warming is a humanitarian issue, as well as a considerable economic issue,” Hollande said on Monday, evoking green growth. “France wants this agreement on the climate to succeed, but we also want to bring all of our companies to what will be a big reconversion of the Chinese economy.”

France is among other major EU countries including Germany and Britain wooing China in the hope of winning business.

And it could be working: France’s nuclear giant Areva announced a potential deal in which the state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation could take a minority stake in its capital. France has committed to introducing more renewable energy at home, and is looking to export the technology abroad.

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