Durban climate talks: media in China and India cautiously upbeat

News agency in China says onus is on developed nations to do more, while Indian paper strikes more nationalist tone

Jonathan Watts,, December 12, 2011

n China and India – the world’s two biggest developing nations – the media reaction to the Durban climate talks agreementwas cautiously upbeat.

The China Daily, which is the government’s mouthpiece to the English speaking world, was optimistic: “The flexibility all parties have shown to reach an agreement at the end of the Durban climate summit offers a glimmer of hope for our children and grandchildren,” one of its commentators said. The article noted that much work still needed to be done but placed the blame firmly on nations that industrialised earlier. “The days of wrangling in Durban have again revealed the lack of political will from some developed countries and their willingness to ignore their historical responsibilities and the fact that they have shifted the bulk of their manufacturing to developing countries.”

No Chinese media have the freedom to strongly criticise their government’s position. China’s Xinhua news agency noted that environmental NGOs were dissatisfied with the deal. The state-run agency said the onus was on developed nations to do more before the next round of talks in the Middle East at the end of 2012. “The lack of political will is a main element that hinders co-operation on addressing climate change in the international community,” it quoted Xie Zhenhua, head of the Chinese delegation, as saying. “We expect political sincerity from developed countries next year in Qatar.” China’s priority is stable economic growth, but the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases is also keen to show that it is playing its part in global efforts to move to a low-carbon economy. Government officials were clearly shocked by the criticism China received after the Copenhagen conference in 2009 and have adjusted their public diplomacy and negotiating tactics to avoid being painted as intransigent this time.

Elements of the Indian media struck a more nationalistic and triumphalist tone. “India took over centre stage as a force to reckon with, regained its position as the leader and moral voice of the developing world as the EU and the US were forced to address its demands,” claimed the Times of India, which added that environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan had become “the voice” of the developing world.

The Hindustan Times also painted the outcome as a victory for India. The two main players at the conference were European Union climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard and Natarajan, who ultimately prevailed, it said, thanks to an impassioned speech that “ensured India’s main concern – the inclusion of the concept of equity in the fight against climate change – became part of the package.”


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