China calls on US, Vatican City & Andorra to commit to emissions reductions

Vatican City: probably not the main target of China's comments (photo: Tony Bowden)

Vatican City: probably not the
main target of China’s comments
(photo: Tony Bowden)

China has called for developed countries outside the Kyoto protocol – the US, Vatican City and Andorra – to make emission reduction commitments comparable with those made by countries inside the Kyoto protocol.

“Since developed countries inside the Kyoto Protocol have assumed their shares of emission reduction, developed countries outside the protocol should also assume comparable emission reduction commitments,” says a government White Paper outlining the Chinese position ahead of the UN climate talks in Durban.

In essence, China is calling for expedited and legally-binding targets from both Kyoto and non-Kyoto participants, in recognition of the work put in by developing nations such as China in reducing their emissions.

“The commitment should be comparable in terms of the nature and scope of emission reduction, and the compliance mechanism,” says the paper. China also calls for new additional “abundant” funds or technology transfer between developed and developing nations, to enable developing nations to continue along the path of effective emissions reductions.

Ahead of Durban, Chinese officials reiterated the status of the Kyoto protocol as an important and legally binding multi-lateral agreement which must be adhered to.

Xie Zhenhua, head of the Chinese delegation to the Durban meeting, said that after the Copenhagen Conference, many nations, especially developing ones, created domestic policies and measures to control emissions. Developing nations accounted for 57 percent of global emission reductions after the 2009 conference, he said, compared to 43 percent for developed nations.

Xie said climate problems used to be ignored when developed countries were in the process of industrialization and urbanization. These countries reached their emission peak when their per capita gross domestic product (GDP) reached approximately US$40,000, he said.

But Xie said China started to take action to address the problems when the country’s per capita GDP reached US$4,000.

“China will take active measures to reduce emissions and ensure that its carbon dioxide emission peak will arrive earlier,” he said. “China is willing to undertake its due responsibilities in accordance with the country’s development.”

However, he warned that China faces a great challenge in meeting this year’s goal of reducing energy consumption per unit of economic output by around 3 percent.

Energy consumption fell by just 1.6 percent during the first three quarters, which Xie attributed to the country’s rapid and ongoing urbanization.

In terms of projects and emissions reductions, China has been a world leader under the Kyoto Protocol. It accounts for 64% of expected annual Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), ahead of closest rival India which has just 11%.

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