MAC/20: Mines and Communities

China Says Exports Fuel Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Published by MAC on 2007-06-22

China Says Exports Fuel Greenhouse Gas Emissions

PlanetArk CHINA

22nd June 2007

BEIJING - China said on Thursday it was unfair for rich countries to buy its cheap goods and then condemn its greenhouse gas pollution, a day after one study suggested the nation was already the world's biggest carbon dioxide emitter.

China's growing greenhouse gas emissions are under a glare of international attention as nations prepare to seek a climate change treaty after the Kyoto Protocol targets expire in 2012.

Many experts and foreign politicians say an effective new deal needs China to accept specific emissions goals, if not restrictions, which the Protocol does not now demand.

But China's Foreign Ministry spokesman said Western countries needed to consider his country's role as a low-cost export powerhouse that in effect helps rich Western consumers avoid emissions at home.

"China is now the factory of the world. Developed countries have transferred a lot of manufacturing to China. What many Western consumers wear, live in, even eat is made in China," spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news briefing.

"On the one hand, you want to increase this production in China. On the other hand, you want to condemn China over the issue of emissions reductions. This is unfair."

China could overtake Germany as the world's biggest exporter of goods this year or soon after. Exports from China jumped 27 percent in 2006, outpacing all other major trading nations, the World Trade Organisation has estimated.

Qin would not say whether Beijing would put trade claims on the formal agenda of treaty negotiations, but his comments suggested the issue could at least figure in China's rhetorical arsenal.

Developed countries needed to "understand China's position in the present-day economy and be more objective and rational over the emissions reduction issue," he said.

China has overtaken the United States as the top emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency said on Wednesday.

Other experts have estimated that China will only surpass the United States in coming years.

The Dutch report reckoned China's carbon dioxide emissions totalled 6.2 billion tonnes in 2006. US emissions totalled 5.8 billion tonnes that year, it said.

The International Energy Agency has said China could emerge as the top emitter of carbon dioxide as early as this year. But China has said average per-capita emissions from fossil fuels in 2004 were 3.65 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Qin said this was only a fraction of Holland's average per capita emissions, which he put at 11.4 tonnes. Rich countries, whose historic emissions have fueled global warming, should not "just point the finger of blame at China and developing countries," he said.

Story by Chris Buckley, REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

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