Positive Environment News

China Says Will Curb Emissions if Gets Tech Help

Date: 30-Nov-07
Country: CHINA
Author: Emma Graham-Harrison and Gerard Wynn

The stance may smooth talks to agree a global deal on climate change, which kick off in Bali next week and are balanced on how far developing nations should join rich countries' efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"Particularly with regard to the more energy efficient technologies available in the hands of more developed countries, if co-operation is forthcoming... we definitely will be able to do more," said Yu.

China would also like to explore how to take into account that a big chunk of its carbon dioxide emissions comes from making goods that are exported to rich countries, which he called a "major concern".

China would not be pressured over its ballooning total output of carbon dioxide, poised this year to exceed top emitter the United States. Washington refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol because it set no caps on developing nations.

What mattered was China's much lower emissions per head, said Yu, a former Africa diplomat, recently appointed to lead his nation's climate negotiating team.

He laid out China's climate change priorities days ahead of what are expected to be contentious talks, opening ground for compromise but stressing the government's opposition to emissions caps for developing countries.

"I've been brought up to believe that men are born equal, we cannot be expected to accept that our per capita emissions would be half the OECD (industrialised) average or one third of another particular country, this is not something that we will agree to," he said, speaking in polished English.

The United Nations Development Programme this week published data showing that Americans produced on average 20.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide each in 2004, versus Chinese 3.8 tonnes.

The world must also acknowledge the large role Western consumers played, because of their appetite for Chinese goods.

"We make a lot of products for export, subsequently we suffer from this, what we call, transfer emissions ... It is a major concern for China and those developing countries in the same position as China."

Climate researchers at Britain's Tyndall Centre last month estimated that net exports accounted for nearly one quarter of China's carbon emissions, similar to Japan's entire emissions.


China has set itself tough targets on energy efficiency and renewables, as it struggles to cut ballooning pollution and bolster energy security, and has made these the centre of its national climate change policy.

Yu said the goals, which have impressed international policymakers and investors, reflected concern at the highest levels about the impact of changing weather patterns on China.

Mankind faces more floods, droughts and rising sea levels, very likely because of carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels, a major UN report concluded earlier this month.

"For China the threat is obvious.... we are basically an agricultural country, if climate change brings about frequent shifts of climate conditions, disasters, flooding and drought, our agriculture will suffer and our food security," Yu said.

But he poured cold water on an idea popular with some western industry, policymakers and academics, that rapidly developing countries like China should impose western efficiency standards on some industrial sectors, such as steel or cement.

"I think everybody could look at the real world and see the situation. How could anybody expect Europe to be at the same level of economic development or economic capabilities as an African country, or as a developing country like China."

The Bali talks are expected to set a deadline of two years for reaching a new global climate pact to succeed or extend the Kyoto Protocol from 2013, a timeline that Yu said he supported but which did not depend on China to agree.

(Additional reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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