China: Rich nations must cap pollution emissions

AP News
Posted: Nov 25, 2009 2:57 PM

China will seek binding pollution targets for developed countries and reject similar requirements for itself at an international climate summit next month, China's top climate envoy said Wednesday.

Yu Qingtai said it is unfair that all countries be required to play a role combating global warming since most of the environmental damage was caused by developed nations during their industrialization over the last 100 to 200 years.

"Developed countries should not make requirements of developing countries that are unreasonable," Yu told a news conference.

"Developed countries should also earnestly ask themselves: 'In solving this problem that I have created, am I keeping my promises and honoring my commitments?'" he said.

The Dec. 7-18 Copenhagen climate summit aims to negotiate 2020 emissions reduction targets for industrial countries. It will also ask developing countries to contribute by presenting detailed plans for how they will cut greenhouse gas emissions. It is unclear how that would be written into the accord and if developing nations would be required to keep their promises.

China, like other developing countries, wants to keep the framework of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which commits 37 wealthy nations to cutting greenhouse gas emissions but doesn't require any binding commitments from developing countries.

The United States was the only major industrialized nation to reject Kyoto, arguing such cuts would harm its economy, and that fast-growing economies, such as China's, should have been subject to Kyoto quotas.

President Barack Obama, reversing his predecessor George W. Bush's position, says the U.S. wants to join a new post-2012 global agreement to rein in emissions. But in exchange, U.S. negotiators seek some level of commitment from China, India, Brazil and other poorer nations.

China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has pledged to reduce its energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent between 2005 and 2010. Greenpeace said Wednesday that it expected China to announce new targets for 2020 on Friday.

It has already said renewables such as solar and wind power will supply 15 percent of its energy needs by 2020. But Beijing is resisting binding emission caps.

"Our demand and expectation for the conference in Copenhagen is very simple, which is that everyone should do a good job meeting the commitments that they have already made," Yu said.