China: No failure in climate talks

Aug. 6, 2009 at 1:20 PM
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BEIJING, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- China's chief climate-change envoy expressed optimism that a comprehensive agreement to reduce greenhouse gases could be reached at U.N. meetings in Copenhagen in December, noting that it "must succeed for the sake of mankind."

Yu Qingtai, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's climate-change negotiator, said the December meetings to reach a new agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol on carbon emissions "cannot afford to fail."

"Not a single country can say that it can keep safe and intact from global warming. So the only way out is cooperation -- global cooperation," he said Wednesday during a news conference.

While calling attention to the worldwide impact of global warming, Qingtai stood firm on China's resistance to an emissions ceiling and pointed to China's progress in limiting carbon emissions.

China and other developing countries are opposed to compulsory cuts in their emissions, contending that the responsibility for solving the problem rests with the developed countries that have been longtime polluters.

Key to the success of the Copenhagen meetings, Qingtai said, is the willingness of developed countries to agree to larger cuts to their emissions, as well as the sharing of green technologies with developing nations.

"The developed countries, in realizing their industrialization, have discharged a large amount of greenhouse gases in the course of one or two centuries," he said. "The cumulative emissions by the developed countries have caused global warming. Who should take the historical responsibilities?"

Qingtai said the 40 percent reduction suggestion proposed by India and China was "quite fair."

China now emits more carbon dioxide than the United States; together both countries account for about 40 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.

"China's effort to cut greenhouse emissions and its actual effect are second to none," Qingtai claimed, calling attention to the country's five-year target of reducing energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent by 2010.

"China has achieved impressive progress in utilizing renewable energy," Qingtai said, pointing out that China ranked fourth worldwide for wind power and first for hydropower and solar power.

"The priority areas for China in the coming five years, 10 years, will continue to be energy efficiency, renewables, reforestation and public awareness," Qingtai said. "Fighting global warming is a long-term challenge; you can't reverse the trend in a couple of years to set right what has been done wrong in the past two centuries."

Talks with the Obama administration on climate-change issues had been "quite fruitful," Qingtai said. Last month, after meetings with Chinese officials, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said he was "optimistic" about the U.N. Copenhagen meetings on climate change in December.

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