(Changes attribution in paragraph 1 to government adviser,
alters paragraph 3 to say adviser's statement)
* Government adviser says China to introduce absolute cap
* U.S. has announced plans to rein in emissions from its
* Climate negotiators heading to Germany for climate talks
By Kathy Chen and Stian Reklev
BEIJING, June 3 China will set an absolute cap
on its CO2 emissions from 2016, a senior government adviser said
on Monday, a day after the United States announced new targets
for its power sector, signalling a potential breakthrough in
tough U.N. climate talks.
Progress in global climate negotiations has often been held
back by a deep split between rich and poor nations, led by the
United States and China, respectively, over who should step up
their game to reduce emissions.
But the adviser's statement, coupled with the U.S.
announcement, sparked optimism among observers hoping to see the
decades-old deadlock broken. The steps come ahead of a global
meet on climate change starting on Wednesday in Germany.
China, the world's biggest emitter, will set a total cap on
its CO2 emissions when its next five-year plan comes into force
in 2016, He Jiankun, chairman of China's Advisory Committee on
Climate Change, told a conference in Beijing.
Carbon emissions in the coal-reliant economy are likely to
continue to grow until 2030, but setting an absolute cap instead
of pegging them to the level of economic growth means they will
be more tightly regulated and not spiral out of control.
"The Chinese announcement marks potentially the most
important turning point in the global scene on climate change
for a decade," said Michael Grubb, a professor of international
energy and climate policy at University College London.
It is not clear at what level the cap would be set, and a
final number is unlikely to be released until China has worked
out more details of the five-year plan, possibly sometime next
The announcement comes a day after the United States, the
world's second-biggest emitter, for the first time announced
plans to rein in carbon emissions from its power sector, a move
the Obama administration hopes can inject ambition into the
slow-moving international climate negotiations.
"The China-US one is a key trust relationship (in climate
talks) and if they are rising above that it sends a very
powerful signal to the rest of the world to get serious," said
John Connor, CEO of Melbourne-based The Climate Institute.
TALKS IN BONN
Focus will now turn to Bonn in Germany, where negotiators
from over 190 nations meet from Wednesday for the latest 10-day
round of talks in a process meant to lead to a new global
climate treaty in Paris in December 2015.
"Interesting hint from Beijing, although the key point will
be where (the cap) is set. If ambitious and announced well in
advance of Paris, it could be a game changer," said a spokesman
for EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.
China, often blamed by rich countries for holding back
progress in U.N. talks on emissions due to its reluctance to
take on a binding target, is stepping up efforts to clean up or
shut down carbon-emitting sources such as coal-fired power
plants, factories and vehicles, because they have also created a
much-publicised pollution crisis that ends hundreds of thousands
lives prematurely every year.
Despite the absolute cap on CO2, adviser He said China's
greenhouse gas emissions would only peak in 2030, at around 11
billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent. Its emissions currently stand
at around 7-9.5 billion tonnes.
But He said that would depend on China achieving a real
reduction in coal consumption from sometime around 2020 or 2025,
and on the nation meeting its target of having 150-200 gigawatts
of nuclear power capacity by 2030.
The share of non-fossil fuels in China's energy mix would
reach 20 to 25 percent in 2030, He added.
(Additional reporting by Michael Szabo in LONDON; Editing by
Joseph Radford, Muralikumar Anantharaman, Ron Popeski and David