China, U.S. Give Copenhagen Negotiators Some Targets

By Lisa Friedman in the New York Times, November 30 2009

There's a story circulating in climate circles that Chinese President Hu Jintao had two speeches in his pocket the day he spoke to the United Nations in New York last month.

One put specific numbers to a new plan of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide China emits for each unit of economic output. The other also vowed a carbon intensity goal but promised only a vague aim of slashing emissions by a "notable margin."

President Obama took the stage first that day, delivering a speech many described as a rhetorically powerful call for the world to fight global warming but devoid of details or promises. Hu spoke next -- and, the story goes, pulled out the noncommittal speech. It was as if he was waiting for a signal that meant the bargaining process could begin.

Now the details are finally in, coming a day after Obama pledged the United States will reduce emissions "in the range of" 17 percent below 2005 levels in the coming decade. China, in return, said it would reduce its carbon intensity 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels over the same period of time.

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