August 6, 2009

China Rejects Calls To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

China refused on Wednesday to submit to demands that wealthy nations commit to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions during upcoming climate change negotiations in Copenhagen this December.

The country also refused to set limits on its own emissions.

Instead, China and other developing nations will call on wealthy countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, said Yu Qingtai, China's lead climate 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," the AFP news agency quoted Yu as saying.

China has "demanded that developed nations reduce emissions by 40 percent... this is fair and reasonable... China's position has not changed," Yu said.

The European Union has said it will reduce its emissions by 20 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, while in the United States, Congress is considering legislation that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

But China, the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter along with the U.S., has said neither of the reductions are enough.

The Copenhagen talks aim to reach a consensus on a new climate change treaty to replace the Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2012.

Under the United Nations' Framework on Climate Change, China is not required to set emissions reductions targets since it is a developing country with low per-capita emissions.

Yu called on wealthy countries to establish firm plans to finance technology transfers to assist developing nations with emissions reductions.  His comments follow weeks of discussions between China and the U.S. on climate change.

Last month, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Beijing was vital to the success of the upcoming Copenhagen negotiations.

Yu said China aims to increase energy efficiency by 20 percent from 2006 to 2010 as part of its plan to address global warming.  The nation will set similar targets for the period until 2020, he added.

However, China still has not projected when it will reach its peak of greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

"When China reaches its emission peak will depend on its development stage, per capita GDP, national resources, technological level," Yu said.

"Our experts and competent authorities are studying when China will reach its emission peak."