China insists wealthy countries should improve emission targets
Wealthy countries should increase their emission commitments if a global pact on climate change is to be reached next year, China's top UN climate negotiator said Friday.
A much-anticipated UN summit will be held in Paris in 2015 aiming to produce the most ambitious deal yet in the fight against global warming.
The pact would for the first time bind all the world's nations to measurable targets for curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
But emission commitments made so far by developed countries account for just 30 percent of the global total, said Xie Zhenhua, China's chief negotiator at UN climate talks, citing researchers' estimates.
"This is a situation that we do not wish to see," he told reporters in Beijing, arguing that wealthy countries have failed to take the lead to cut emissions and provide funding and technological support to developing nations as promised.
The argument is one that Beijing frequently makes regarding developed countries' efforts to address climate change.
Xie, who is also a vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning body, insisted that China is still a developing country where 128 million people still make less than $1.5 a day.
"Different countries should take on responsibilities and obligations commensurate with their historical liabilities, development phase, national situation and capabilities," he said.
China in 2009 unveiled what it called an ambitious target to cut the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of gross domestic product in 2020 by between 40 and 45 percent, based on 2005 levels.
As of 2013, the amount had been slashed by 28.56 percent, or equivalent to a reduction of 2.5 billion tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions, Xie said, adding that Beijing "has the determination and confidence" to achieve its targets before 2020.
China has so far avoided giving a time for when its emissions must peak, and Xie on Friday said Beijing was still "studying" the issue.
Zhang Gaoli, a vice premier who will lead the Chinese delegation to the UN climate talks in New York next week, will speak further on the issue next week, Xie said.
The government is mulling to cap total coal consumption and carbon dioxide emissions so that the peak can "come as early as possible", he said, without giving a time for the implementation.
Per capita emissions of CO2 from China, the world's No. 1 emitter, are now on a par with those from Europe, at around seven tonnes per person per year, according to figures issued in November by scientific consortium the Global Carbon Project.
© 2014 AFP