China to Watch Others on Climate Change Action
BRUSSELS China will watch how other countries meet their environmental commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions in coming years before deciding whether to sign up to its own mandatory cuts, a minister said on Tuesday.
Xie Zhenhua, Chinese environment minister, said China would take action to cut emissions blamed for global warming, but would wait before committing itself to targets after 2012, when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol environmental treaty ends.
"I hope that some countries would, according to the obligations which are provided for in the Kyoto Protocol, implement in a substantive way their obligations and take up their commitments," Xie told reporters in Brussels after meeting European Union environment officials.
"On the Chinese side, the Chinese government would make its own decision after making some assessments of the implementation by other countries."
The European Union, considered a leader in climate change and largely credited with securing Russia's crucial ratification of Kyoto after the United States pulled out, is pushing for other nations to join the fight against global warming.
It has long pressed the United States to commit itself to emissions reduction targets -- a feature of the Kyoto system -- to make up for its substantial share of the world's pollution and to set an example for developing nations such as China and India, where emissions are rising along with economic growth.
Global negotiations for the post-2012 period are to begin this year. The EU has said developed nations should pursue cuts of heat-trapping gases of 15-30 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. But Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas has stressed that other nations -- especially the United States -- must be on board in order to make a dent in global warming.
Dimas said on Tuesday the Chinese were positive about a multinational approach to climate change and other environmental issues and said Xie had pledged to pass on their discussions to colleagues at home.
China, like other developing nations that have signed up to the Kyoto Protocol, is not required to make emissions cuts in the treaty's first period from 2008-2012.
But environmental activists hope it will make firm commitments in the future.
"We still have some time from now until the year 2012," Xie told reporters after the Brussels meeting.
"Before the year 2012, I think I have already said, the Chinese government will -- in the process of its economic development -- take proactive and positive measures to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases."