China Is Set On Curbing Fossil Fuels -- Climate ChiefPublished by MAC on 2007-02-07
China is Set on Curbing Fossil Fuels -- Climate Chief
7th February 2007
BEIJING - China's top climate official said on Tuesday that Beijing is determined to curb the use of fossil fuels behind global warming, but deflected questions of whether the big emitter will accept caps on greenhouse gases.
Qin Dahe, chief of the China Meteorological Administration, said the nation's leaders worried that global warming, bringing intensifying droughts, floods and heat waves in its wake, would undermine development goals.
"The Chinese government is taking climate change extremely seriously," Qin told a news conference. "President Hu Jintao has said that climate change is not just an environmental issue but also a development issue, ultimately a development issue."
Qin was a co-chairman of the United Nations scientific panel on climate change that last week reported that global warming was a certainty and an accumulated outpouring of greenhouse gases from factories, power stations and vehicles was all but certainly behind the warming.
The panel gave a "best estimate" that temperatures would rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 Celsius (3.2 and 7.8 Fahrenheit) this century.
Asked what China planned to do, Qin stressed Beijing's commitment to improving energy efficiency by 20 percent in coming years, and to shifting the country from overwhelming dependence on coal, one of the main fuel sources of greenhouse gases.
"This is an ambitious and extremely difficult objective," he said. "The government is very urgent about this demand."
Many environmental advocates have also urged widening the UN's Kyoto Protocol, which binds 35 industrial nations to cut emissions by 2012 but excludes developing nation emitters, including China and India, from specific targets.
But Qin did not directly answer questions about whether China would accept a cap on emissions, instead stressing that the country needed support to buy clean-energy technology."As a developing country that's growing rapidly and has a big population, to thoroughly transform the energy structure and use clean energy would need a lot of money," Qin said.
Qin's comments were the first extended public reaction to the U.N climate report from a Chinese official, and reflected China's awkward status as both a major producer of greenhouse gases and a victim of potentially catastrophic climate change.
China is hurtling towards possibly becoming the world's third-biggest economy by 2008, overtaking Germany and trailing only Japan and the United States. But that growth has been fuelled by coal-burning power stations and wheezing factories.
Chinese officials point to their country's relatively low per capita emissions of greenhouse gases, saying the main culprits are developed nations, who have no right to deny economic growth to others.
Qin cited data showing that in 2000 China was already the world's second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. But he could not provide more recent data.
"Unfortunately, I don't have information from the past few years at hand," he said. "I think that maybe you can check these things in some magazines."
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE