[Update: On November 13, the spokesperson for the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs addressed the rather unavoidable implication that the bilateral US climate agreement with the PRC represented a break with the "BASIC" bloc--Brazil, South Africa, India, and China--which had formed to negotiate climate matters with the United States at Copenhagen. The answer was "Two signals": 1) PRC serious about climate change 2) We'll work with everybody i.e. including bilateral talks with the United States. Despite the "China maintains close communication and cooperation with other BASIC countries and other developing countries and will continue to do so" lip service, looks like hasta la vista, BASIC and, for that matter, the G77 group of small, at-risk developing countries that the PRC was supposed to champion by insisting on the Kyoto ethos and obligations.
As to why the PRC decided to change course, I'm guessing there were geopolitical blandishments from the United States. But also, it was clear the new Modi government had decided (perhaps with some US wooing) that the BASIC structure didn't work for it.
On November 6, the Indian Express reported:
[T]he prime minister’s sherpa for the upcoming G20 meeting in Brisbane, where climate change is expected to feature heavily, proposed a new kind of decoupling. Arguing that India’s climate negotiation strategy, which has amounted to casting its lot with China, is hurting its interests, Suresh Prabhu called for the “common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR)” concept that has formed the bedrock of global climate action discussions to be applied within the so-called developing block. Prabhu points out that aligning with China clubs India in a higher per-capita emissions bracket than it needs to be in, and so limits its room for manoeuvre.I'm guessing the PRC saw the handwriting on the wall and decided to break the bloc and deal bilaterally with the United States while it could still get a good deal.
So, a long-standing goal of US climate diplomacy--breaking the BASIC bloc and with it the pro-Kyoto solidarity of the big developing world emitters with the at-risk nations--has been achieved.
Of course, if India's takeaway is that "more room to maneuver' translates into a deal to allow its CO2 emissions to continue to grow even past the PRC's cap date of 2030, I doubt we'll be throwing that "Global Warming Is Licked" parade any time soon.
As to the "Kyoto is dead" line, some at-risk countries haven't got the message yet, as one can read in this piece about the CARICOM (Caribbean) bloc's stated determination to continue pursuing binding caps for the developed countries.
In the run-up to the 2015 Paris conference--whose stated intention is to somehow put the wheels back on the banged-up Kyoto buggy--I suspect the disappointment and fears of the at risk countries will be handled according to the time-honored formula: lofty rhetoric and inadequate assistance for adaptation--with the promise of More to Come! if the at risk countries knuckle under and accept their miserable lot in life.
President Obama announced that the US would pony up $3 billion to the UN's "Green Climate Fund"--subject, of course, to getting the approval of the vociferously opposed Republican-controlled US Congress--and Japan announced it would also contribute $1 billion.
The "Green Climate Fund" is one of those optimistic neoliberal exercises. Its mandate:
The U.N.-backed GCF is designed to enlist private-sector money on top of government donations, and so help poorer countries to invest in environmentally friendly technologies and build up their defenses against rising sea levels and less predictable weather patterns.
Yeah, well consider this. At the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009, when the US was confronting concerted opposition to the developed world's plan to ditch the Kyoto Treaty, Hillary Clinton dangled the prospect of $100 billion per year for a fund for at risk nations.
Now we have one of those vaunted discretionary private-public partnership collecting what is probably a fraction of the money needed to help the at-risk nations to cope with drastic climate change. Call it the Globalwarming Chickenfeed Fund.
If some massive financial infusion toward the at risk countries occurs, I suspect a lot of it will have to come by twisting the arm of the PRC, not digging into the shallow pockets of the West.
It will be interesting to see if and how the PRC tries to atone for its abandonment of the G77. A hefty contribution to the GCF? Some fund of its own? Nada? We'll wait and see. CH, 11/14/14]
Kyoto mandated legally-binding emissions caps for the “Annex I” industrialized nations. It was unratifiable in the United States due to Republican resistance and because its carve-out gave “Annex II” countries, particularly China but also India, a now indefensible pass on emissions targets on "developing nation" grounds.