China commentary chides rich nations on climate change

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s official news agency has accused rich countries of shirking their duty to fight climate change and seeking to divide developing countries, warning that negotiations for a new global climate pact face deep disputes.

The commentary by China’s state-run Xinhua news agency on Fiday comes while negotiations in Bonn seek to foster consensus ahead of a key conference in Copenhagen in December that aims to announce a new international agreement on global warming.

It also comes shortly before the chief U.S. climate change envoy, Todd Stern, arrives in Beijing for talks. China and the United States are the world’s top two emitters of the greenhouse gases from human activity that are stoking global warming, and agreement between them is vital for a new pact.

But the official commentary, and earlier remarks by a senior Chinese negotiator, showed much divides Beijing from Washington over actions to contain greenhouse gas emissions.

“A small number of developed countries have been constantly seeking to shirk their responsibilities and are hoping to revise the basic principles of the negotiations,” said the commentary, after noting recent remarks by U.S. officials.

“The climate change negotiations involve all the countries in the world, and there are complex clashes of interests and some conflicts are deep-seated.”

Under the Kyoto Protocol, which now governs participating states’ duties to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, developing nations, including China, need not accept mandatory caps on emissions.

The United States is the only major developed country that has not joined the protocol, in large part because many in Washington opposed a treaty that did not set a ceiling for future emissions growth by China and other big developing powers.

The Xinhua commentary said proposals to define stricter requirements for China, India, Brazil and other big emerging emitters than those for the rest of the developing bloc flew in the face of basic principles agreed earlier.

Under “common but differentiated responsibility,” developing countries must help fight climate change “but this does not mean emissions reduction promises or targets,” said the commentary.

The Xinhua comment echoed remarks made by China’s climate ambassador, Yu Qingtai, on Thursday. [nL21026607]. Yu told Reuters that an effort to redefine the developing countries would “definitely not succeed.”

Stern, who arrives in Beijing over the weekend, has told reporters the United States wants to cooperate with China in curtailing greenhouse gases.

He said the United States should “meet China halfway” by developing a genuine partnership.

Editing by Nick Macfie