World News

China calls for deeper CO2 cuts by rich nations

BEIJING (Reuters) - China urged rich nations on Wednesday to sign up to tougher 2020 targets to cut carbon emissions, as U.N.-led negotiations intensify on a broader climate pact meant to rein in the pace of global warming.

Splinters of ice peel off from one of the sides of the Perito Moreno glacier in a process of a unexpected rupture during the southern hemisphere's winter months, near the city of El Calafate in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, southern Argentina, in this July 7, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Andres Forza/Files

An official with China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said rich nations must commit to cutting emissions by 25-40 percent by 2020 as well as ramp up funding for developing countries.

The comments come as Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives neared an agreement on Tuesday on a climate-change bill that they expected to approve soon.

Democrats had agreed to an emissions reduction target of 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, said House Energy Committee chairman Henry Waxman.

The NDRC official said China, the world’s top emitter of planet-warming greenhouse gases, wanted to commit to emissions reductions in certain industries but was still figuring out how to do this.

“The success of Copenhagen needs strengthened and deeper cuts and more aggressive targets from developed countries,” said Li Liyan, deputy head of the Climate Change Office of the NDRC, China’s chief economic planning agency.

Delegates from about 200 nations meet in the Danish capital Copenhagen at the end of the year to try to agree on a broader climate pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol, whose first phase ends in 2012.

Developing nations want rich countries to sign up to deeper emissions cuts than under Kyoto and also want pledges of greater funding to help poorer nations adapt to climate change and pay for clean-energy technology to help them move to lower-carbon economies.


A U.N. panel of scientists has said rich nations needed to cut emissions between 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avoid the worst of global warming.

Asked by Reuters if China would commit to specific reduction targets from certain industries, Li told a conference in Beijing “we want to, we just don’t know how to do it yet”.

China was also proposing to establish a specific financing mechanism for the transfer of green energy technology and funding for climate change adaptation for poorer nations, Li said.

In a submission to the United Nations last month meant to guide the ongoing climate negotiations, China called for the creation of a U.N. body to pursue urgent action on adaptation.

The head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat said on Tuesday rich nations have outlined “encouraging” cuts in greenhouse gas emissions so far but the United States and others might be able to make tougher curbs.

“One of the main points from now on is to see how ... far the level of ambition can be increased,” Yvo de Boer told Reuters.

He said the marathon climate negotiations ahead of Copenhagen will get a spur from May 18, when a first draft negotiating text is due to be published. The text will sum up submissions from governments in recent weeks.

Australia said last week it would commit to a 25 percent cut by 2020 from 2000 levels if the world agrees to an ambitious deal to stabilise CO2 levels in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million or less by 2050.

The European Union has backed cuts of 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 and would raise this to 30 percent if other nations joined in.

The next round of U.N. climate talks is in Bonn from June 1-12 at which rich nations are expected to press big developing nations to back national efforts to curb the growth of their emissions.

China’s total power generating capacity rose by more than 250 percent from 2000-2008 to reach 792.5 gigawatts. On present growth rates, China is projected to overtake the United States as the world’s top power producer by 2015.

While a large portion of China’s energy comes from burning coal, the government has also embraced large-scale use of renewable energy such as wind and hydro.

Additional reporting by Alister Doyle in Oslo