China urged rich nations yesterday to sign up to tougher 2020 targets to cut carbon emissions, as UN-led negotiations intensify on a broader climate pact meant to rein in the pace of global warming.
An official with China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said rich nations must commit to cutting emissions by between 25 percent and 40 percent by 2020, as well as ramp up funding for developing countries.
The comments come as Democrats in the US House of Representatives neared an agreement on Tuesday on a climate-change bill that they expect to approve soon.
Democrats had agreed to an emissions reduction target of 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, House Energy Committee chairman Henry Waxman said.
The NDRC official said China, the world’s top emitter of planet-warming greenhouse gases, wanted to commit to emissions reductions in certain industries, but was still figuring out how to do this.
Delegates from about 200 nations meet in the Danish capital Copenhagen at the end of the year to try to agree on a broader climate pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol, whose first phase ends in 2012.
Developing nations want rich countries to sign up to deeper emissions cuts than under Kyoto and also want pledges of greater funding to help poorer nations adapt to climate change and pay for clean-energy technology to help them move to lower-carbon economies.
A UN panel of scientists has said rich nations needed to cut emissions between 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avoid the worst of global warming.
China was also proposing to establish a specific financing mechanism for the transfer of green energy technology and funding for climate change adaptation for poorer nations.
In a submission to the UN last month meant to guide the ongoing climate negotiations, China called for the creation of a UN body to pursue urgent action on adaptation.
The head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat said on Tuesday rich nations have outlined “encouraging” cuts in greenhouse gas emissions so far, but the US and others might be able to make tougher curbs.
“One of the main points from now on is to see how ... far the level of ambition can be increased,” Yvo de Boer said.
He said the marathon climate negotiations ahead of Copenhagen will get a spur on Monday, when a first draft negotiating text is due to be published. The text will sum up submissions from governments in recent weeks.
Australia said last week it would commit to a 25 percent cut by 2020 from 2000 levels if the world agrees to an ambitious deal to stabilize carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million or less by 2050.
The EU has backed cuts of 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 and would raise this to 30 percent if other nations joined in.
The next round of UN climate talks is in Bonn, Germany, from June 1 to June 12.