Using the Copenhagen Accord to counter multilateral protocols under the United Nations' framework during future climate negotiations is thoroughly unacceptable, according to China's top climate official Xie Zhenhua.
In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Xie emphasized the necessity of adhering to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Road Map.
"I've seen a strengthening consensus among China and the Group of 77 developing countries that negotiations should be carried out through the multilateral process, using the dual-track negotiation system," Xie said, calling it "an important step forward" in the six-day Tianjin climate meeting.
The ongoing climate talks are using two channels: long-term, cooperative action under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, an international environmental treaty ratified by all industrialized nations - except the United States. The Kyoto Protocol is the first and only legally binding target for developed nations.
Jonathan Pershing, the US deputy special climate envoy who leads the US delegation, accused China and some developing countries of "revisiting grounds" and blocking progress in the Tianjin climate meeting, a final stop before the year-end summit to take place in Cancun.
"We should use the Copenhagen Accord as a basis for an agreement in and beyond Cancun," Pershing told a group of Chinese journalists on Thursday.
But Su Wei, China's chief climate negotiator, offered a rebuke, saying the "Copenhagen Accord is not a bible" and insisted that any formal decisions of the negotiation should come from the "party-driven" process.
The Accord reached at last year's Copenhagen climate summit is only a political document without any legal force.
"Some countries do not support - or even acknowledge it - because the document was not produced in an all inclusive, transparent manner. We should learn the lesson," said Xie.
Parties are trying to convert the political consensus contained in the Accord into negotiation texts, which should be in line with the mandates of Bali Road Map, agreed in 2007, Su said.
Sergio Serra, Brazil's ambassador for climate change, is echoing the words of Chinese officials, calling the Copenhagen Accord "very incomplete".
"The US delegation doesn't have the mandate to sign any legally binding decisions because they don't have a national climate legislation - and obviously that is a major obstacle for progress in the negotiation," Serra told China Daily.
Yang Ailun, a climate policy researcher from the environmental NGO Greenpeace said the US is trying to walk away from the multilateral negotiation procedures under the UN.
"By doing so, the US will lower the ambitions for an international legally binding agreement," said Yang.
Washington, he added, is only picking up several elements from the Accord that it favors most - such as the international consultation and analysis, which requests transparency on voluntary mitigation efforts by developing nations.
"The domestic inaction to mitigate its carbon emissions in the US - largely due to the failure to pass a crucial national climate legislation - is blocking the progress in negotiation," said Stanley So, manager of economic justice campaign at Oxfam Hong Kong.
Brazilian Climate Ambassador Serra said several developed countries "are very reluctant to put down their numbers (of mitigation targets) for negotiation" because they are not sure what US will be doing.
But Pershing insisted pledges by the US to cut 17 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from 2005 levels "look the same" with the efforts committed by the European Union, which has committed to a 20 percent reduction.
"There is no single matrix against which you compare any two countries," Pershing said.