China and France agreed on Monday that compliance checks must be a part of any international deal on climate change reached in Paris next month.

In a joint statement released ahead of the United Nations Climate Change conference in the French capital, the two countries said that progress should be reviewed every five years in order to “reinforce mutual confidence and promote efficient implementation.”

French President Francois Hollande described the agreement, signed in Beijing, as an “historic” step forward; in a statement released on Monday, however, Greenpeace said that although it was indeed a step forward it was only “incremental” one.


Greenpeace China Climate Policy Advisor Li Shuo said that “for Paris to be a success, a far bigger stretch is needed” while Executive Director of Greenpeace France Jean-Francois Julliard cautioned that “there is no time for champagne… What the world needs in Paris is a global long term vision of a 100% renewable energy supply for all by mid-century.”

In 2009, Beijing was widely blamed for scuppering what was expected to be an historic climate summit in Copenhagen. Although the Bali Road Map intended the talks in the Danish capital to finalise legal-binding emissions reduction targets, negotiations teetered on the brink of collapse.

Then-UK environment minister Ed Miliband later accused the Chinese delegation, led by former premier Wen Jiabao, of having “vetoed” the idea of a 50 percent reduction in global emissions by 2050—a move commentators attributed to the leadership’s devotion to maintaining economic growth, considered an imperative source of legitimacy for the ruling Communist Party.

COP15 Copenhagen
COP15 Copenhagen. Photo: HKFP.

The Copenhagen Accord, a mere “political statement” with no binding targets, was formulated behind closed doors amongst a select group of 26 countries. The head of the G77 group of countries said that the draft text asked African countries to sign a “suicide pact”—but if poorer nations did not sign the Accord they would be unable to access funds from richer nations to help them adopt to climate change.

The upcoming Paris talks are the first time world leaders will meet to discuss climate change since Copenhagen, with China’s stance once again playing a pivotal role in determining the summit’s success or failure.

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick is an award-winning journalist and scholar from Hong Kong who has reported on the city’s politics, protests, and policing for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, The Guardian, The Independent, and others