June 5, 2014 / 4:40 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-China says will cap greenhouse gas output soon, but no date set

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BONN, Germany, June 5 (Reuters) - China plans to set a cap on its soaring emissions of greenhouse gases soon but has not yet decided when, Beijing's top negotiator at U.N. climate talks said on Thursday.

Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, also welcomed U.S. measures to combat global warming, saying that both nations were "working very hard to address climate change".

"We will try our utmost to peak as early as possible," Xie told reporters on the sidelines of U.N. talks on global warming in Bonn, Germany, referring to greenhouse gas emissions. "Opinions of the scientists and scholars differ quite a lot."

On Monday, a senior advisor to the Chinese government said China was considering imposing a cap on its carbon emissions when its next five-year plan comes into force in 2016.

Xie said no decisions had been taken about the details of any cap.

Decisions by China and the United States, the top emitters of greenhouse gases, will set a benchmark for the ambitions of other nations when world leaders meet at a summit in Paris next year to agree a new U.N. pact to slow global warming.

A cap would be a radical change. Until now, China has merely sought to reduce the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, arguing that it cannot set a cap because it needs to burn more energy to raise living standards for its citizens.

"We are working very hard to find a balanced equilibrium between economic development and environmental protection," Xie told reporters at the talks that involve delegates from about 170 nations.

He said China hoped to define the measures it will present to the Paris summit in the first half of 2015. (Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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