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China slams rich nations for weak emissions goals
December 9, 2009 / 7:06 AM / 8 years ago

China slams rich nations for weak emissions goals

* China says EU goal not enough, U.S. not "notable"

* Says Japan placing impossible conditions

* Rejects $10 billion annual support as too low

By Emma Graham-Harrison

COPENHAGEN, Dec 8 (Reuters) - China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, on Tuesday accused the rich world’s largest emitters of setting themselves unambitious and deceptive targets for cuts.

Senior Chinese negotiator Su Wei, after weeks of low-key diplomacy, said that number two emitter the United States had set a goal that was "not notable", the European Union’s target was "not enough", and Japan had set impossible preconditions.

China has been pushing hard for a strong committment from developed countries at the Dec. 7-18 climate talks in Copenhagen but the broadside was unexpected.

China has rarely given news conferences at previous climate talks and the possibility that Beijing and Washington were close to some kind of agreement rose last month when they unveiled emissions targets within a day of each other.

But China’s attack suggested that just two days into the talks in the Danish capital, long-running north-south rifts were undermining hopes of reaching a strong global deal by a deadline next week.

Su also derided a mooted $10 billion in yearly financial help from rich nations as a drop in the ocean.

"If divided by the world population it is less than $2 per person," he said.

This would not cover a coffee in the rich world or a coffin in poor countries that are at the sharp end of changes in climate, he said.

Su said that the success of the Copenhagen talks hinged in part on the offer brought to the table by the United States, the world’s number two emitter behind China.

He dismissed the target for 2020 that President Barack Obama has laid out and slammed Washington for failing to rein in its emissions, unlike other developed nations.

"Currently the target is to reduce emissions 17 percent from the 2005 level, I think for all of us this figure cannot be regarded as remarkable or notable," Su told a news conference on the sidelines of the summit.


Su said all the rich nation targets broadly fell short of the emissions cuts recommended by a U.N. panel of scientists. The panel has said reductions of 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 were needed to avoid the worst of global warming.

He called a unilateral EU cut of 20 percent insufficient, and even a sharper 30 percent cut -- which the bloc has said it may shift to depending on other cuts -- was still too easy.

Su also attacked the new government in Japan for setting "impossible" conditions on its offer of a 25 percent cut by 2020, which was a considerable increase on the goal set by the previous administration.

Japan, the world’s fifth largest emitter, has said its commitment depends on ambitious targets being agreed by major emitters.

Su said the demands on poor nations violated international agreements that allowed them to put economic growth first, and the demands on the United States were unrealistic given its clear stance on climate change.

"The Japanese have actually made no commitment because they have set an impossible precondition," he said. (Additional reporting by Alister Doyle; editing by Noah Barkin)

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