25 April 2013 — The major impact that international summits and treaties have had on China’s environmental governance is often overlooked, says writer Li Shuo in China Dialogue.

In an article titled, Why it’s time to end China-bashing on the environment, Shuo says environmental protection first emerged as an issue in China in 1972, after the country dispatched a delegation to the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm.

“Participation in this event was an important step forward for Chinese diplomacy. More importantly, it marked the point at which China began to create environmental authorities and laws.

“But the influence of multilateral processes is now waning. The UN-led climate talks suffered major setbacks at the Copenhagen conference in 2009. The 2012 Rio+20 summit proved a pale comparison with its predecessor two decades previously, with results that came nowhere near to touching the three major treaties concluded at the original conference.

“The world’s hopes for China are contradictory – the country is expected to contribute to economic growth, but also to cut carbon emissions and pollution. This has changed China’s role, from that of a backward pupil to a demanding negotiator.”

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