Rich nations should do more on climate change: China
BEIJING (Reuters) - Rich countries responsible for most of the world's greenhouse gas emissions should take the lead on climate change, a commentary in China's state media said on Tuesday, a week before the opening of global talks on the issue.
China is set to surpass the United States as the world's top emitter of carbon dioxide, the main gas that traps heat in the atmosphere, but has resisted pressure to agree to caps or specific targets on its emissions.
The commentary said that from the Industrial Revolution until the 1950s, the developed world was responsible for 95 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions and accounted 77 percent of the world's total from 1950 to 2000.
"Their present per-capita rate of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions still far exceeds that of developing countries," said the commentary in the overseas edition of the People's Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece.
"Therefore, on the problem of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, who should bear heavier responsibility goes without saying."
The message reinforces China's position ahead of negotiations that open in Bali on December 3 that begin the process of finding a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, whose first phase ends in 2012.
China is loath to agree to firm targets that could restrain its breakneck economic growth, and says rich countries should do more to transfer emissions-reducing technology.
Tuesday's commentary said China was already "making utmost efforts" to contain global warming, pointing out that two key measures of pollution fell slightly this year.
Emissions of acid-rain-causing sulphur dioxide fell by 1.81 percent in the first nine months, and chemical oxygen demand, or COD, dropped by 0.28 percent.
But a cabinet report released on Monday painted a stark picture of ecological damage across the country, saying the conflict between economic development and the environment "grows starker by the day."
China's emissions have also become a diplomatic issue.
Visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged China on Monday to strive for carbon-free growth.
China and France also signed a pact on fighting climate change in which they pledged to hold regular consultations and agreed to promote cooperation on energy-saving technologies.
(Reporting by Lindsay Beck, editing by Nick Macfie)