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. China Delays Release Of Climate Change Report

China's former top meteorologist Qin Dahe told an international meeting on global warming in Beijing on Monday that the nation's glaciers were diminishing rapidly. "Glaciers (in China) have been reduced by 25 percent in the past 350 years, (and with the current pace of melting) only half of them will be left after 2050," said Qin, who co-chaired one of the working groups of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
by Robert J. Saiget
Beijing (AFP) April 24, 2007
China has delayed releasing a long-awaited plan for dealing with climate change, an official said Tuesday, amid reports that various levels of government remain divided over the issue.

"The release of the National Plan on Climate Change has been postponed, it was supposed to be released... today," Xu Huaqing, director of the National Development and Reform Commission's energy research institute, told AFP.

Xu, who was a co-author of the report, said it aims to discuss how China should deal with climate-changing greenhouse gases over the next five years.

He refused to speculate on when the report would be published, or say why it had been postponed.

Many inside and outside of China are waiting anxiously for the report as it is expected to be the nation's first major policy document focused on tackling climate change.

According to Yang Ailun, an expert on climate change at Greenpeace China, the delay of the report was decided in a closed-door meeting at the reform commission, China's economic planning agency, last week.

"Greenpeace China regrets this postponement and urges the government to issue the report in a timely manner," she said.

"It was supposed to be an overarching document, very general, so I don't know why they postponed it."

Chinese environment campaigners familiar with the process said the delay was due to wrangling among officials over the impacts the planned measures to curb greenhouse gases may have on economic growth.

"We think there is still a disparity between the central and local governments," said Jin Jiaman, executive director of the Beijing-based non-government organisation Global Environmental Institute.

"Local authorities think more about economic development but the central government is thinking more about environmental protection."

Another environmental campaigner, who did not want to be named, also said there was still much debate about how to limit the economic impacts.

"There is a lot of mathematics going on right now," the campaigner said.

China, which relies on coal for around 70 percent of its energy needs, is set to overtake the United States as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases over the next two to three years.

As a signatory to the Kyoto protocol on climate change, China is not required to cut greenhouse gas emissions due to its status as a developing nation.

China has said previously it will not accept Kyoto-style curbs on its greenhouse gas emissions, saying the responsibility rests with the developed world.

But it has repeatedly acknowledged that climate change is a problem that must be addressed, warning that related droughts, storms and melting glaciers were already a threat to the nation.

China's former top meteorologist Qin Dahe told an international meeting on global warming in Beijing on Monday that the nation's glaciers were diminishing rapidly.

"Glaciers (in China) have been reduced by 25 percent in the past 350 years, (and with the current pace of melting) only half of them will be left after 2050," said Qin, who co-chaired one of the working groups of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"Glaciers in China's west and on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau are vital to the national economy and people's livelihoods (as) they are the main water source for the Euro-Asian continent."

Qin said rising temperatures could also hurt China's grain harvest and lead to food shortages, while millions of people living in low lying areas near the sea could be inundated by rising oceans caused by melting polar ice.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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