09/22/2009, 00.00
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Everyone at UN waiting to see China’s move on green house gases

China might present an ambitious plan to cut green house gases. Beijing’s posture will also influence that of the United States whose new president is committed to fighting pollution. An agreement between the two countries would be decisive for the fate of the world.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The UN expects China to announce a series of measures to fight pollution and global warming at upcoming General Assembly in New York. If they are implemented, China would become a world leader on climate change. In the meantime, the United States and other countries will wait to see if Beijing can turn its promises into reality. Currently, China burns more than two billion tonnes of coal a year.

UN Climate Chief Yvo de Boer said that mainland China is planning an ambitious programme to develop renewable energies, improve production methods and energy use, cut traffic pollution and shut down polluting plants.  De Boer is enthusiastic about Beijing’s plans and believes that its “suite of policies will take China to be the world leader on addressing climate change.”

No details are available about these plans but Beijing has already said it wants to get 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

China and the United States together account for about 40 per cent of emissions of carbon dioxide, and other major gases. No agreement can be reached without their active participation.

EU President José Barroso said that UN talks are “dangerously close to deadlock.”

Everyone is in fact waiting to see what comes out of the bilateral meeting between Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao that should follow the annual UN event.

Obama has already announced his intention to give US energy policies an environmental turn, unlike his predecessor who refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol because it was not binding on developing and polluting nations like China and India. Still, the US expects China to make some kind of commitment to targets.

This year, the US House of Representatives approved climate-change legislation backed by Obama that would set the country's first federal mandatory limits on greenhouse gases. Factories, power plants and other emitters would be required to cut emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020, and by 83 per cent by mid-century.

The General Assembly currently is set to prepare the ground for a new agreement to fight climate change, ready hopefully before the start of the 190-nation conference on climate change set to open in Copenhagen (Denmark) in December.

However, the most recent meetings have had little success because rich countries want every country, including poor and developing countries, to move away from highly polluting fuels.

Developing countries retort that current problems were caused by rich countries and that they cannot afford energy efficient technologies; thus, in exchange they want more substantial economic assistance.

China has had to use very polluting sources of fuel like coal to power its rapid industrial development and its fast economic growth. Although it still considers itself a developing economy, China now pollutes almost as much as the United States.

Climate change will also be on the agenda of the upcoming G20 summit in Pittsburgh (US), which should discuss how to provide economic aid to developing countries in exchange for less polluting technologies.

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See also
Asia-Pacific states and US announce deal on greenhouse gases
Climate talks in Tianjin as China tries to clean up its image
China and India playing greater role in greenhouse gas emission
Bali preparing the after-Kyoto
World's biggest polluters urge industry to reduce greenhouse gases


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