China, India oppose 2050 emissions cut goal-France

(For more G8 summit stories, click on [G7/G8]) (Adds fresh Hu comments)

TOYAKO, Japan, July 9 (Reuters) - China and India are not ready to sign up to a goal set by the Group of Eight industrial nations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 50 percent by 2050, a French presidential aide said on Wednesday.

But the aide said the two fast-growing Asian economies, which together account for 25 percent of the emissions that scientists say are contributing to global warming, would be willing to take action later.

"China and India don't adhere for the time being to the goal of a 50 percent cut by 2050, but there is a willingness to participate later," the official told reporters.

He was speaking after the G8 -- Japan, Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Russia and the United States -- discussed climate change with China, India, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil. Those countries were later joined by Australia, South Korea and Indonesia in a so-called Major Economies Meeting.

The G8, especially the United States, says it cannot work towards its goal of halving carbon pollution unless fast-growing economies such as China agree to curb their own emissions.

President Hu Jintao said that China took climate change very seriously and that developing countries should make whatever contribution they can in the fight against global warming.

But he said the onus had to be on rich countries.

"Developed countries should make explicit commitments to continue to take the lead in emissions reductions," Hu said.

His remarks were distributed in English by Chinese officials.

Hu said China had a responsible attitude to climate change and would participate constructively in global talks on a pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012,

"We should demonstrate political will and show flexibility to ensure the success of the negotiations," he said.

But, laying down a marker for the U.N. talks, which are due to conclude in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Hu said the world had to bear in mind that China was still a developing country in the process of industrialising and modernising.

"China's central task now is to develop the economy and make life better for the people," Hu said.

Moreover, China's per capita emissions, both past and present, were relatively low. "A significant share of China's total emissions fall in the category of subsistence emissions necessary to meet people's basic needs," he said.

And China's emissions were growing in part because many global manufacturers had shifted their operations to China.

The transfer of energy-saving technology and cash from the West was vital to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, yet rich countries had been dragging their feet, Hu added.

"Financing and technology are crucial but weak links in cooperation on climate change. There is now a huge funding gap in international cooperation on climate change," he said. (Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry and Alan Wheatley; Editing by Hugh Lawson)