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'Play fair' on carbon calculation
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-12-10 08:06

Greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) should be calculated on a per capita basis from 1900 to ensure fair play as nations strive to halve global emissions by 2050, Chinese scientists said Tuesday.

Speaking at a workshop at the UN climate change summit in Poland, He Jiankun, a professor from Tsinghua University, said that developed countries, which are home to just 20 percent of the world's population, have contributed 75 percent of all global GHGs emissions since the Industrial Revolution, according to the website of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Cumulative carbon dioxide emissions should be calculated on a per capita basis for each country, so that every nation can shoulder a common but differentiated responsibility for climate change, he said.

Such a calculation "better reflects the principal of equity for developing countries", He was quoted as saying by Caijing magazine.

Chinese scientists have said emission allowances should be set at 2.33 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year for the period 1900 to 2050, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Most rich developed nations in the world have already far exceeded their budgets and would therefore have to buy emissions rights to keep on emitting until 2050, the report said.

Pan Jiahua, a researcher with the sustainable development center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in a research paper published recently that developed countries have overdrawn their future "carbon budgets" due to their historical emissions.

Although China is now one of the world's top carbon dioxide emitters, historically, its emissions have been low, a white paper on climate change released in October said.

Between 1904 and 2004, China's carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels amounted to just 8 percent of the world's total, while its per capita cumulative emissions ranked it 92nd in the world, the white paper said.

Even today, China's per capita emissions are only a quarter of those of the United States, the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter, Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said earlier.

However, the study on per capita emissions and others on environmental technologies to help developing nations are only research papers, not formal Chinese proposals, Su Wei, deputy head of the Chinese delegation to the Poznan talks, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"But we hope they will contribute to our discussions toward Copenhagen," he said.

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