Money heats up U.S.-China gas debate

A Chinese delegate prepares for a meeting in the Plenary Tycho Brahe in the Bella Center of Copenhagen -- December 10, 2009

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis: It's day four at the U.N. summit in Copenhagen, where the
world is grappling with the issue of climate change. Marketplace reporters Stephen Beard and Sam Eaton are there.
And this morning our coverage continues with a look at the friction between the two biggest players there: the U.S. and China. The debate over how to control "heat-trapping gases" has touched-off a back-and-forth concerning -- what else -- money. So let's bring in Marketplace's Stephen Beard right now, live from Copenhagen

Stephen Beard: Hello, Steve.

Chiotakis: So why are these two squabbling over money?

Beard: Well, they've crossed swords over the question of how much the rich countries should pay the developing world, both to deal with the effects of climate change and to keep the emissions of heat-trapping gases to a minimum. Now, U.S. officials here say we're happy to pay to help poor countries, but we're not handing over cash to China. It may be officially a developing country, but it's clearly not poor, so it's not getting U.S. taxpayers' dollars.

Chiotakis: So how is China responding to that?

Beard: Well, they've said rather sniffly, we're not seeking financial support from the U.S., we're just pressing for rich countries to accept their responsibility for climate change and to help the developing world deal with the consequences. This does, however, open an old controversy. I mean, China is by far the biggest recipient of Western financial aid under this so-called clean development mechanism. This is where developing countries get financial help for projects that curb emissions. Now these have to be new projects, but China has reportedly been getting billions and billions of dollars worth of help for projects that were actually going to happen anyway. And this also of course touches on an even more sensitive issue for the future -- the extent to which China should be given access to Western clean technology under these U.N. arrangements. So a very touchy topic here in Copenhagen.

Chiotakis: All right, Stephen Beard, thank you for bringing it to us here from Copenhagen.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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