China hails U.S. climate promises, says to act
BONN, Germany |
BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Beijing welcomed U.S. promises of more action to slow global warming on Monday and said China would also do its share while ensuring that its people were not "left in the dark" without electricity.
"We welcome this positive change in attitude and approach by President (Barack) Obama and his team," China's climate ambassador Yu Qingtai said on the sidelines of 175-nation U.N. climate talks from March 29-April 8 in Bonn.
The Obama administration made its U.N. climate debut at the Bonn meeting on Sunday, promising to cut U.S. emissions by 16 to 17 percent back to 1990 levels by 2020 -- far more ambitious than under former President George W. Bush.
Yu told reporters that developed nations had to lead the way with deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to pave the way for a new U.N. climate at a meeting in Copenhagen in December. China and the United States are the top greenhouse gas emitters.
Yu said that Bush policies had "left a lot wanting." Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N. treaty that sets caps on emissions for all other industrialized nations until 2012.
And Yu said China would do its part in a new pact, stopping short of absolute cuts in emissions, to give room for growth to raise living standards. "We all have our due contribution. We definitely will make that contribution," he said.
He rejected criticisms that China was on a path to high pollution by opening a new coal-fired power plant every few days.
"We have the option of leaving our people in the darkness without electricity, leaving the factories idle and people unemployed, or building up the necessary infrastructure to allow our economy to grow," Yu said.
IN THE DARK
"I do not suggest that people in China should remain in darkness, should go without electricity because we have a climate change challenge," he said. China's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are about a quarter of those in the United States.
Yu also said that the green percentage of investments by China in a 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) two-year stimulus package was higher than in developed nations trying to lift their economies from recession.
The U.N. Climate Panel says that emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels, are blanketing the planet and will bring more heatwaves, droughts, floods and push up sea levels.
On Sunday, U.S. special envoy for climate change Todd Stern told the meeting that the United States was strongly committed to a new climate treaty and said the United States had a "unique responsibility" as the top emitter since the Industrial Revolution.
Stern also praised China's measures to work for a greener economy but said it had to do "a lot more."
Yu said "the Chinese view is that the developed countries, for obvious reasons -- historical, cumulative emissions that caused the whole problem in the first place -- must continue to take the lead in deep cuts in their emissions."
The U.N. Climate Panel says that developed nations would have to cut emissions by between 25 and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avoid the worst of climate change. Poor nations such as China will have to take measures to slow their rising emission.
Many developing nations insist that rich nations should make cuts in line with the Panel's numbers.
-- For Reuters latest environment blogs click on: blogs.reuters.com/environment/
(Editing by Dominic Evans)
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