China to unveil new climate plans at U.N. summit

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Tuesday it would unveil new plans for tackling global warming at a United Nations summit next week that will try to break deadlock between rich and poor nations on a new climate treaty.

President Hu Jintao “will announce the next policies, measures and actions that China is going to take,” senior climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua said of the September 22 summit in New York.

Xie told reporters that China, which has overtaken the United States as the top greenhouse gas emitter, would strengthen its own policies and take on responsibilities in keeping with its level of development and practical capacities.

He declined to give further details. China says it has to focus on ending poverty but is under pressure to do more to slow the rise of its coal-dominated emissions as part of a new U.N. pact meant to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.

The New York summit, hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, is a chance to speed up stalled 190-nation talks between rich and poor nations about sharing out the burden of curbs on greenhouse gases.

In Washington, a World Bank study gave ammunition to developing nations by saying the rich must cut greenhouse gas emissions forcefully now or the steeply rising cost of climate change will fall disproportionately on the poor.


It said measures to help developing countries curb emissions and shift to cleaner energies from fossil fuels could cost around $400 billion a year by 2030. Currently, mitigation finance averages around $8 billion a year.

In addition, annual investments for measures to help the poor adapt to the effects of climate change could spiral to around $75 billion from less than $1 billion a year currently available, the Bank said in its annual World Development Report.

“The countries of the world must act now, act together and act differently on climate change,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick said.

“Developing countries are disproportionately affected by climate change -- a crisis that is not of their making and for which they are the least prepared. For that reason, an equitable deal in Copenhagen is vitally important,” he added.

China’s Hu will also attend a summit of the Group of 20 in Pittsburgh on September 24-25 that will look at ways of boosting finance for a new climate treaty meant to help avert floods, heatwaves, wildfires and rising ocean levels.

But the United States, the only developed nation outside the current U.N. Kyoto Protocol for limiting emissions until 2012, cautioned against expecting too much in Denmark.

On a visit to Vienna, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the outcome must not be so weak that Copenhagen was a waste of time but added that December should not be billed as a last chance.

“Do I say let us wait for it to be overwhelming? No. You have to bring more people along, so don’t tee it up as now or never,” he told reporters.

China and many other developing nations want rich countries to cut emissions by at least 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 to avert the worst effects of climate change.

Many industrialized nations say such cuts are out of reach, especially in an economic downturn. U.S. President Barack Obama wants to cut U.S. emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020, a cut of 14 percent from 2007, and then by 80 percent by 2050.

The United States never ratified Kyoto after former President George W. Bush said it would cost U.S. jobs and was wrong to exempt poor nations such as China and India from 2012 targets.

Editing by Andrew Roche