By Adrian Croft
BEIJING, Jan 19 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s visit to China switches focus to the environment on Saturday as he highlights how Britain and China can cooperate to fight climate change.
Action on climate change is a priority for Brown, who spent the first day of his visit on Friday telling Chinese officials that Britain would welcome more trade and investment from China, including from its new $200 billion sovereign wealth fund.
China is the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and is poised to overtake it.
Brown’s government has proposed the world’s first climate change law which requires Britain to cut climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.
But if other countries do not act to tackle climate change, it will not solve the problem, British officials say.
"We very much need other countries, particularly the largest emitters ... to move similarly onto a low carbon path," one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Britain and British companies are already working with China on clean energy initiatives and agreements signed by China and Britain on Friday aim to increase that cooperation further.
Brown is due to visit a gas-fired power station in Beijing that British officials say is nearly twice as efficient as the coal-fuelled power stations China typically builds.
It is a combined heat and power plant that uses waste heat to heat water for people’s homes.
The Taiyang Gong power station was partly financed by Britain through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism which enables companies from rich countries to invest in clean energy projects in developing nations in return for credits to offset their own emissions.
After a visit to the 91,000-seat Bird’s Nest National Stadium, which will hold the opening and closing ceremonies for this year’s Beijing Olympics, Brown flies to Shanghai where he will see plans for China’s first eco-city.
The scheme is to be built at nearby Dongtan where all energy will be renewable and no gasoline-fuelled cars will be allowed.
Major developing countries such as China have been loath to agree to firm targets for emissions cuts that could hold back their rapid economic growth.
But last month U.N.-led talks in Bali approved a roadmap for negotiations on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol that would widen the treaty to the United States, China and India.
Brown said after his talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Friday that Wen took the problem of climate change seriously.
"He’s not denying there’s a problem. He knows action needs to be taken," he told BBC television.
A declaration on climate change signed by Britain and China on Friday commits Britain to provide at least 50 million pounds ($100 million) to support investment in energy efficiency, renewables, clean coal and carbon capture and storage in China.
Under a second agreement, Britain and China will collaborate on developing low carbon cities. Britain plans an eco-city of its own in the Thames Gateway, east of London. (Editing by Giles Elgood)