China climate goals run against growth: report

PANAMA CITY Tue Oct 4, 2011 6:54pm EDT

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - China, the world's biggest carbon dioxide emitter, will meet near-term goals to fight climate change but quick economic growth will mean C02 emissions will be higher than previously thought, researchers said on Tuesday.

China's quick adoption of clean energy will help it exceed emissions-to-GDP targets agreed last year, but its carbon dioxide output will still be increasing a decade from now with an expanding economy, said scientists with Climate Action Tracker.

"China is set to not only meet its Cancun Agreement emissions intensity pledge, but is likely to go beyond it," the independent research group said, referring to the December 2010 global climate change accord.

"However, at the same time, largely due to faster than expected economic growth, emissions in 2020 are likely to be higher than previous estimates."

The study underscores the uncertain value of global pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions meant to meet the international goal of no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature rise over pre-industrial levels which most scientists agree is required to avoid potentially catastrophic climate events.

"We're heading toward a warming of well over three degrees at present unless there are major improvements in the pledges," said Bill Hare, the director of Climate Analytics, a research group based in Germany that took part in the study.

China's concrete steps to curb carbon emissions go further than the pledges made by other big polluter nations such as the United States, the world's second-largest CO2 emitter, said Hare.

"Experts are becoming increasingly concerned about the ability of the United States to meet" its goal, said Hare, citing U.S. President Barack Obama's promise for a 17 percent C02 reduction by 2020 compared to 2005 levels.

The U.N. Climate Change Conference being held in Panama this week is the last stop for global negotiators before the next annual meeting of top policymakers in Durban, South Africa, later this year where policymakers grapple with the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, a binding emissions reduction accord shunned by the United States that is increasingly in danger of expiring in 2012 without an immediate successor or an extension.

(Reporting by Sean Mattson; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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