Pollution that has accompanied China's rapid economic growth has put the Asian giant in second place in world pollution after the US, according to a report released over the weekend.
The report, combined with continued rejection by the US of joining the Kyoto Convention on global warming, prompted Karl-Heinz Florenz, the head of the environmental commission of the European Parliament, to warn of an ever more likely climate catastrophe.
The report on China, released over the weekend at the 10th UN meeting on climate change, showed that emissions have increased in China from 2.67 billion tonnes in 1994 to 4.08 billion tonnes in 2002, according to information from China and the International Energy Agency in Paris.
The 2002 China figures represented 3.2 tonnes per person. The figure for the US is 19.4 tonnes per person and for Germany, 10.2 tonnes. The report was the first official report submitted by China under the requirements of the Kyoto Convention on global warming.
Under the convention, developing countries are not obligated to reduce greenhouse gasses. Brazil also presented its first report, which showed the destruction of rain forests is the major culprit in its increased emissions of dangerous gasses.
"If we don't agree in Buenos Aires on making rapid progress and bringing in the United States, China and India, it could be that my grandchildren in Cologne will be looking at the North Sea across the mouth of the Rhine," Florenz said in a published statement on Sunday.
He called for the global reduction of carbon dioxide, and for Germany to take a leading role on the issue.
"We have the highest carbon dioxide emissions in Europe and wrote the original emission trade laws," he said.
Germany has actually seen a reduction in emissions over past years.
The report said that the largest sources of Chinese emissions was the burning of fossil fuels, above all coal, the mining industry and the production of energy.
Experts said it was absolutely urgent for China to give priority to environmentally friendly technology in the billions of dollars of investments flowing into the country.
Germany's Environmental Minister Juergen Trittin plans to call today for both Beijing and Washington to accept the upper limits of emissions.