China says hopes to narrow climate gap at talks next week
Beijing (AFP) Sept 29, 2010
China hopes a UN climate conference it hosts next week can help narrow differences on the issue, an official said Wednesday, while casting doubt on major progress at full negotiations later in the year.
China will host a final preparatory meeting in the northern city of Tianjin ahead of UN talks opening in November in Cancun in Mexico, with major carbon emitters including the United States and China far apart on the issue.
"At the Tianjin conference we aim to reduce the divergence as much as possible and try to achieve positive progress so as to contribute to the progress of the Cancun conference," said Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate negotiator.
"(The Tianjin conference) will lay a solid foundation for the success and outcome of the Cancun conference," he told reporters.
However, hopes have faded that any binding deals on cutting greenhouse gas emissions can be reached at the talks in the Mexican resort amid lingering bitterness following last year's global talks in Copenhagen.
The Copenhagen conference last December agreed on the goal of capping global temperature rises at 2.0 degree Celsius (3.6 degree Fahrenheit) and pledged 100 billion dollars a year to help poor countries cope with climate change.
But it failed to muster the requisite emissions-reduction commitments from carbon producers or specify who would provide the mitigation funds.
Major emerging nations such as China and India also have resisted legally binding requirements to cut emissions, saying rich countries are historically responsible for global warming and must take the lead.
Asked what hopes China had for Cancun, Xie appeared to look beyond that meeting.
"It seems the Cancun conference is only part of the process of climate change negotiations," he said.
"And after the Cancun conference parties will continue to press ahead with negotiations... and try to reach a legally binding agreement" in further talks next year, he added.
China has pledged to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP -- also known as carbon intensity -- by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, essentially a vow of greater energy efficiency.
However its world-leading emissions of greenhouse gases would still continue to increase.
Xie said China planned further measures to encourage greener growth, but declined to specify whether they would include taxes on energy use or carbon emissions.
Environmentalists have called for such measures to discourage China's heavy reliance on carbon-belching coal, which provides about 70 percent of its energy.
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