China and Indian Leaders Said to Skip UN Climate Summit

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) — The top leaders of China and India
aren’t planning to attend this month’s United Nations summit on
climate change, signaling tepid support for a global pact to cut
greenhouse gases among two of the largest emitters.

President Xi Jinping of China and Indian Prime Minister
Narendra Modi have told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon they
won’t be at the day-long meeting of world leaders on Sept. 23,
according to two UN diplomats, requesting not to be identified
discussing the leaders’ plans. Their absence undercuts the
summit, although it may not be fatal for negotiations set to
wrap up by the end of 2015.

China is the world’s top greenhouse-gas emitter, and India
is third, after the U.S., according to World Bank data. Together
China and India account for nearly a third of total emissions,
and their carbon footprint is growing while it remains flat in
the U.S. and Europe.

“I was completely shocked and very disappointed to read
today that Chinese President Xi and Indian Prime Minister Modi
may not make it to Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit,” Tony deBrum,
foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, in the northern
Pacific Ocean, said in a statement. “For the small island
states of the world, the science says we might be forced to pay
the biggest price of all — the loss of our countries. We expect
solidarity from our developing country compatriots, not
excuses.”

Resisting Cuts

Both China and India have pushed rich nations to pony up
the $100 billion promised to poor countries to help deal with
the threats of climate change, and have resisted sharp cuts in
their own output. Both are also heavy users of coal, the most
carbon-intensive fuel, and have announced their own internal
efforts to boost renewable energy.

“The issue for us is really on the commitments that
countries will bring and the secretary general expects member
states to come with strong and bold commitments on climate
change,” Ban’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said yesterday in
New York. He said he has nothing to add when asked about the
leaders’ attendance.

The UN meeting on Sept. 23 is not a negotiating session but
a gathering of world leaders, business executives and
environmentalists to discuss ways to combat global warming, and
how to mitigate its impact. The meeting includes three
concurrent sessions in the morning at which leaders are to make
“national action & ambition announcements,” according to the
schedule.

‘Turning Point’

“I hope the climate summit will be a turning point for
generating climate action and mobilizing political will for a
meaningful, universal climate agreement next year,” Ban said in
a blog post this week.

This UN meeting will be followed by a negotiating session
in Lima in December, and then one in Paris next year at which
leaders seek to hammer out a new global agreement on cutting
emissions.

The Indian mission to the UN didn’t have an immediate
comment. Qin Gang, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry,
said the country wasn’t ready to confirm who would attend the
summit and said it’s “biased” to suggest that who attends the
meeting sends any signal about China’s commitment to protecting
the climate.

China’s Response

“China has been pursuing emission reduction and we have
been making our contribution to the international campaign
against climate change,” Qin said during his daily briefing in
Beijing today.

Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the White House National
Security Council, declined to comment on the decision by Xi not
to attend, which was previously reported by the online
publication China Dialogue, and said he couldn’t comment on
whether the move would affect U.S. President Barack Obama’s
plans to attend. Bloomberg BNA reported July 25 that the White
House had confirmed Obama would attend, without naming its
sources.

The summit comes as scientists are increasingly warning of
the risks of climate change. Humans risk causing irreversible
and widespread damage to the planet unless there’s faster action
to limit the fossil fuel emissions blamed for climate change,
according to a draft UN report.

“Without additional mitigation, and even with adaptation,
warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very
high risk of severe, widespread and irreversible impacts
globally,” the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
said in the draft, obtained by Bloomberg News last month.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Mark Drajem in Washington at
mdrajem@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jon Morgan at
jmorgan97@bloomberg.net
Justin Blum

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