US climate plan fails to convince

By Wu Chong (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-05 06:58

US President George W. Bush's steps to establish a new international climate change framework outside of the Kyoto Protocol should complement international treaties rather than replace them, a senior official said yesterday.

Ma Kai, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), made these remarks at the launch of China's first national climate change program yesterday.

On Thursday, Bush announced that the US would assemble the world's 15 largest greenhouse gas emitters, including the US, Japan and China, to seek a long-term global reduction of emissions. He said they should produce a plan to address climate change by the end of next year.

Ma said the international community should hold "more discussions" on this initiative. Also, any such initiatives should adhere to the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" included in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), he said.

China's stance on this issue is written into the national program unveiled yesterday. It says "regional cooperation on climate change, in any form, should function as a helpful complement to the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol rather than replacing or weakening them".

But Ma said China welcomes the initiative as it signals a change of attitude in the US towards the issue.

"China agrees with the US in that mitigating climate change does not necessarily mean slowing down economic growth, and that technology is the key to addressing the problem," he said.

Ma also said more studies were needed for the European Union's proposal of limiting global warming to 2 C, especially as it "lacks explanations on the economic and social impact of the cap".

The "2 C proposal" was raised by Germany, the current chair of the EU, before the G8+5 summit, which is slated for tomorrow. The proposal says the global average temperature should not be allowed to increase by more than 2 C before being brought back down. Under that proposal, global greenhouse gas emissions would have to be cut to less than half the amount emitted in 1990 by 2050.

Intensive talks are underway about what steps the international community should take after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. It was reported last month that European and Asian foreign ministers had agreed to complete negotiations on a new international climate change pact to limit greenhouse gases by 2009, and that Asian developing nations will not have to adhere to set targets.

Li Liyan, an official with the office of the national coordination committee on climate change under the NDRC, said before the UNFCCC holds its assembly in December, it would be "too early" to conclude what the new treaty would be like.

But whatever happens, China will not promise any emission caps, Li said. However, it will not shirk its responsibility. As well as the national program, it will set up a National Leading Group to Address Climate Change headed by Wen Jiabao.

(China Daily 06/05/2007 page4)

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours