DURBAN, South Africa, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, is sending ambiguous signals at an international climate summit regarding future negotiations, experts say.
At the United Nations' 17th annual climate change gathering this week in Durban, South Africa, China's lead negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, said China was ready to enter into a legally binding agreement after current voluntary programs end, but laid down conditions unlikely to be acceptable to other countries, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
China says because of its rapid economic growth and the persistent poverty of millions of its citizens, its main condition is that it cannot be held to the same emissions standards as advanced industrialized nations, the Times reported.
That has been a deal-breaker for the United States for years, and Todd D. Stern, the American climate change envoy, said while the United States would be happy to discuss a formal treaty at some future date it had conditions of its own likely to rule out any sort of arrangement like that proposed by Xie.
For a legally binding agreement to succeed, "it's going to be absolutely critical that it applies to all the major players, and China obviously is one of them," Stern said.
"All the major players are going to have to be in with obligations, with commitments that have the same legal force," he said.