Three Reflections a Day Keeps the Teacher Away

At today’s meeting of the ADP on Section K (Time Frames and Process Related to Commitments/Contributions) of the Co-Chairs’ Non-paper on Elements for a Draft Negotiating Text, the Chinese delegation took the floor for a particularly lengthy period and put forth many suggested changes, additions, and deletions to the Non-paper.  In general, China has been quite vocal at all the meetings I have attended at the COP and its comments have received the endorsements of many Parties, indicating China’s ongoing ascendancy to the status of a responsible global leader.

One particular comment made by the Chinese delegation today caught my attention. Paragraphs 64-70 of the Non-paper set out the potential elements for a mechanism to review implementation of the Convention.  The opening paragraph of this section states that “[t]he governing body shall regularly conduct a strategic review of the aggregate effect of implementation in order to asses progress towards operationalizing the ultimate objective as set out in Article 2 of the Convention pursuant to paragraph 3.”  After the governing body does so, under Article 67 it “shall recommend action to harness unrealized opportunities to mitigate and adapt to climate change and to mobilize the necessary financial support.”

The Chinese delegation stated that it wanted to offer some improvements on Article 47.  Specifically, they proposed inserting a requirement for Parties to conduct a “domestic reflection” in order to identify ways they could improve their mitigation and adaptation efforts.  They likened the idea to the “reflection note” issued by the ADP Co-Chairs after each session of the ADP.  According to the delegation, the concept chairman maoof self reflection is deeply rooted in Chinese cultural traditions.  There’s a Chinese saying – “three reflections a day keeps the teacher away.”  They argued that in the climate change context it would be a very good way to promote “self learning” and to increase domestic ambition.  After all, the delegation stated that Chairman Mao Zedong often promoted self reflection (or, perhaps more accurately described as self criticism) as a good way to increase one’s performance and ambition.

It was certainly one of the most unique comments I heard here at the COP. It will be interesting to see whether this element of Chinese culture makes it into the next iteration of the elements