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Kyoto treaty takes effect to tackle climate
By Qin Chuan and Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-17 02:11

China will continue to explore ways to tackle climate change, a senior government official said yesterday as the Kyoto Protocol came into force.

Birds fly over smoke from a thermal power station in New Delhi, February 16, 2005. After years of delay, the Kyoto Protocol to fight global warming takes effect on Wednesday, the first legally binding plan to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by developed countries. [Reuters]
The 1997 United Nations accord aims to cut greenhouse gases and curb global warming. China ratified the protocol in 2002, although as a developing country it has no specific obligation to cut emissions.

Liu Jiang, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said he hopes developed countries will take the lead in implementing the protocol.

And they should help developing countries increase their ability to address climate change, he added.

The United States, the world's largest emitter of such gases, has refused to ratify the Kyoto agreement. The White House on Tuesday defended US non-participation in the protocol, stressing economic concerns.

French President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday urged developed countries to cut more gas emissions to combat global warming.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Fedotov yesterday welcomed the fact that the protocol control has come into force, but pointed out that the treaty does not solve all environmental problems related to the climate.

Australia has defended its decision not to join, with Environment Minister Ian Campbell saying the country was nonetheless on track to cut emissions by 30 per cent.

According to the treaty, developed countries have to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, by an average of 5.2 per cent from 1990 levels by 2008-12.

Although China has no specific obligation to cut emissions, it has taken a series of measures to address climate change, Liu said.

It has set up a national co-ordination body, actively participated in international negotiations and carried out campaigns to raise public awareness.

The Chinese Government has also set up an examining committee for the clean development mechanism (CDM), which is a crucial part of the protocol.

Under CDM, developed countries can carry out emission-reduction projects in developing countries through financial and technical co-operation. This counts towards their emission targets.

Liu said the country has so far approved two CDM projects and more are being prepared.

"It is a good thing for China that the protocol has become effective," said Wang Zhongying, deputy chief of the Centre for Renewable Energy Development under the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission.

"The protocol provides new opportunities for China to draw more overseas investment under the CDM arrangement," Wang said.

Yu Jie, of Greenpeace China, said yesterday that there were hurdles to jump if China was to benefit from CDM.

They include the fact that there is little expertise that would enable the introduction of emission-saving technology to Chinese companies, and the awareness about such issues among the country's firms is inadequate, Yu said.

A group of college students from universities in Beijing, calling themselves the "solar generation," yesterday showed their support for the protocol at a celebration held at Jingshan Park in Beijing.

The celebration was part of Greenpeace's global activities to mark the introduction of the Kyoto Protocol.

"We must reduce the use of fossil energy and turn to more renewable energy," said second-year student Bi Mingchao, a volunteer from Beijing-based Capital University of Economics and Business.

The volunteers also wrote a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, part of which reads: "Climate change is the most serious challenge. Please make sure the UN encourages all countries in the world to take the necessary actions to tackle the problem." Many passers-by at the celebration signed their names to the letter, which will be sent to Annan himself. 

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