chinaOne thing is for sure about the negotiations in the run up to the Climate conference in Copenhagen – there is going to be intense arm-twisting and diplomatic manoeuvring. Central to any deal will be China.

China is keeping up the pressure on the developed countries, by insisting that the West should at least double its stated commitment to reduce emissions by at least 40 per cent on 1990 levels.

This is quite an ask: it would be double what the EU is currently proposing – 20 per cent by 2020 compared with the 1990 levels. The US meanwhile would not even be close –  The US Congress is currently considering legislation that would reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020. China has said neither of those pledges is sufficient.

“This target is fair and reasonable,” argues Yu Qingtai, China’s chief climate change negotiator. “We have all along believed that due to the historical responsibility of the developed nations, they must continue to take the lead with large reductions beyond 2012.” We “have demanded that developed nations reduce emissions by 40 percent… this is fair and reasonable… China’s position has not changed.”

Different papers are taking differing views on the latest Chinese position. The FT reports that although China says its position hasn’t changed, it is gradually softening its position, with “room for compromise” that shows a “new willingness to converge with the western approach.

Others, though, believe China remains the stumbling block, with some Americans arguing China has to agree to something before the US budges. John Kerry, the US senator who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, argues “China needs to understand that we will not enter into a global treaty without a meaningful commitment from China to be part of the solution.”

Yu remains “optimistic,” that a deal can be struck. “The Copenhagen conference must succeed for the sake of mankind.”

Yeah, but will the deal be worth the paper it is written on?