Government and Policy

'No intention' of capping emissions

By Lan Lan (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-02-25 06:58
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But country 'still committed' to reducing carbon intensity

China has no intention of capping its greenhouse gas emissions even as authorities are committed to realizing the nation's target to reduce carbon intensity through new policies and measures, the country's top climate change negotiators said yesterday.

The negotiators also warned that rich and developing countries have little hope of overcoming key disagreements over how to fight global warming.

China "could not and should not" set an upper limit on greenhouse gas emissions at the current phase, said Su Wei, the chief negotiator of China for climate change talks in Copenhagen, at a meeting in Beijing on China's climate change policies in the post-Copenhagen era.

Su, who is also director of the department of combating climate change under the National Development and Reform Commission, said that China's greenhouse gas emissions have to grow correspondingly as the country still has a long way to go in improving people's livelihoods and eradicating poverty.

The country's carbon dioxide emissions per capita is also relatively low compared to developed countries and China has not contributed much to climate change because of its short history as an industrial nation, he said.

However, China will spare no effort to adopt proactive measures to fight the negative effects caused by global warming and achieve the country's ambitious goal of cutting carbon intensity per GDP unit by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, a voluntary target China pledged last November, he said.

"The targets for carbon intensity reduction will be included in the 12th and 13th five-year plans (2011-15; 2016-20) as a binding index," he said.

The targets remain a very challenging task for China, as its secondary industry comprises a large part of the country's industrial structure, said Ma Zhong, a professor at the Renmin University of China.

The secondary industry accounted for 46.8 percent of China's 2009 general domestic income, official statistics showed.

Carbon emissions caused by manufacturing sectors account for about two-thirds of total emissions in developing countries, while emissions of the service sector have the same ratio in developed countries, researchers have said.

China will introduce a carbon emissions check system for the steel industry and a fuel efficiency management system for automotive products, as well as initiate demonstration projects in the petrochemical industry, Premier Wen Jiabao said at an executive meeting of the State Council, China's Cabinet, yesterday.

Similarly, fighting climate change was highlighted as a major national strategy as well as an important opportunity for economic structure adjustment by the country's top leadership at a meeting on Tuesday.

Many hope a legally binding climate change treaty, which failed to be signed at the Copenhagen conference, will be finalized at a UN meeting in Mexico in December.

Yu Qingtai, China's special representative for climate change negotiations, said yesterday that players could face hard times in this year's climate negotiations.

Developed countries are unlikely to change their tune and will continue to be reluctant in promising emission cuts and utilizing green funds, he said. They will also pressure developing countries into shouldering unreasonable responsibilities and the so-called new emerging big countries will remain their main targets, he said.

Yu said China will stick to the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" and work together with international communities, though a divergence of views on vital issues will be a long-standing problem.

A vast majority of developing countries are in the initial or middle stage of industrialization, which is characterized by high carbon intensity, while rich countries have completed industrialization and transferred a large part of manufacturing functions to developing countries, said Qi Ye, a professor of Tsinghua University.

"Both developed and developing countries are facing heavy costs in efforts of cutting emissions. Developed countries are striving to sustain their vested interests while developing countries are seeking the rights for development," said Pan Jiahua, a senior researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Developing countries will lose their future edge in terms of development speed, scale and level if they have no space for emissions, Pan said.

Li Jing and agencies contributed to the story

(China Daily 02/25/2010 page3)