| BEIJING, June 9
BEIJING, June 9 Any near-term regulation of
China's greenhouse gas emissions would likely allow for future
emissions growth, a senior government official said on Monday,
discounting any suggestion of imminent carbon cuts by the
Sun Cuihua, deputy director of the climate change office at
the National Development and Reform Commission, said it would be
a simplification to suggest China would impose an absolute cap
on greenhouse gas emissions from 2016.
No decision had yet been taken on a cap and the timing of
such a measure was under discussion, she said. Several options
were being considered and China would choose policies in
accordance with its conditions and stage of development.
"Our understanding of the word 'cap' is different from
developed countries," Sun told a conference.
An emission cap, whether imposed economy-wide or only on
enterprises covered by a national carbon market, could be
adjusted incrementally to allow for China's status as a
devloping country with growing energy consumption, she said.
"Ours will probably be an incremental cap and we are
currently researching all kinds of options," she said.
Sun's comments are likely to cool hopes in international
climate negotiations that China could significantly change the
base lines by announcing sooner-than-anticipated CO2 cuts.
She spoke after He Jiankun, a climate change adviser to the
government, said last week China would cap its emissions when
the next five-year plan enters into force in 2016.
Even though He said emissions would continue to grow until
2030, some foreign observers understood that to mean that
emissions would start to decrease soon.
Experts say an emissions cap would likely be set at a level
that would not impede growth, but that it would ensure emissions
would not rise beyond a specific level, even with strong growth.
Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate official, said last week
the country would seek to cap its emissions "as soon as
possible" but that experts disagreed on when greenhouse gases
Emissions have nearly quadrupled since 1990 as the
coal-fuelled economy has grown by double-digits almost every
year. China accounts for more than a quarter of total emissions.
DEVELOPED NATIONS AWAIT MEASURES
Big emitting developed nations such as Australia, Canada,
Japan and the United States are reluctant to commit to binding
emission reduction targets in a global treaty unless major
emerging economies, such as China and India, also take steps.
China pledged in 2009 to reduce its emissions per unit of
GDP to 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, but has failed
to commit to setting an overall limit on emissions.
Driven by a desire to reduce dependence on fossil fuel
imports and modernise its export-oriented economy, China has
launched a series of initiatives to curb the rise in emissions.
The centrepiece of policy has been a plan to launch a
national carbon market later this decade. China has already set
up six regional CO2 markets in regions such as Beijing,
Guangdong and Shanghai.
A seventh and last pilot scheme was to begin in southwestern
Chongqing this week, but Sun said the opening date had been
pushed back to June 19, without giving a reason.
China's air pollution crisis has routinely put major cities
under a cover of smog. Now seen as a major health threat, it has
added momentum to emissions initiatives.
China has in the past year banned construction of collieries
in key regions, ordered the closure of thousands of inefficient
factories and introduced stricter fuel standards for vehicles.
(Additional reportint by Kathy Chen; Writing by Stian Reklev;
Editing by Ron Popeski)