China said on Wednesday that it will not sacrifice growth to cut gas emissions, illustrating the difficulty in reaching a global climate deal at a major summit next month despite United States moves to boost the talks.
The comments from China’s special envoy to the December 7-18 UN summit in Copenhagen showed the sharp divide between rich nations and emerging countries and came after the United States indicated it would set targets for reducing emissions.
While defending China’s refusal to accept mandatory emissions cuts at the meeting, Yu Qingtai accused developed nations of failing to fulfill pledges under the Kyoto Protocol which is meant to be replaced by a new deal in Denmark.
China is the world’s largest overall emitter of greenhouse gases, but Yu pointed out that its per capita emissions were between one-third and one-fifth of developed countries.
“We are now approaching the end of 2009 and we have taken note that for a lot of European countries, the emissions reductions have not gone far, whereas for some countries they have actually gone up by a large margin,” Yu said.
He said it was unlikely China would cut emissions for now.
“When a nation is in a period of fast-paced industrialisation and urbanisation, energy consumption and total emissions go up rapidly,” Yu told reporters.
A step closer: Obama
US President Barack Obama said that recent progress meant the world was “one step closer to a successful outcome in Copenhagen.”
Countries must “reach a strong operational agreement that will confront the threat of climate change while serving as a stepping-stone to a legally binding treaty,” he told a press conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Obama will attend the Copenhagen meeting next month.