China Pledges to Curb CO2 Emissions
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday promised to put a "notable" brake on the country's rapidly rising carbon emissions, but dashed hopes he would unveil a hard target to kickstart stalled climate talks.
The leader of the world's biggest emitter told a U.N. summit that China would pledge to cut "carbon intensity," or the amount of carbon dioxide produced for each dollar of economic output, over the decade to 2020.
His promise is a landmark because China had previously rejected rich nations' demands for measurable curbs on its emissions, arguing that economic development must come first while millions of its citizens still live in poverty.
"It's still a very significant step -- a Chinese leader standing on that platform and saying China will make a mid-term carbon intensity target," said Yang Ailun of Greenpeace China.
"We should think of this as a clear signal that China wants to de-couple carbon emissions from economic growth," she said.
But without a firm figure attached, the offer to reduce emissions intensity may not be enough to rekindle faltering talks on a new global deal to tackle climate change.
Hu said only that carbon intensity would come down "by a notable margin by 2020 from the 2005 levels," which still leaves Beijing and other major powers plenty of room for maneuver before final negotiations in Copenhagen in December.