China will not commit to CO2 limits
July 6, 2007
Lu Xuedu, deputy director-general of China's Office of Global Environmental Affairs, told British parliamentarians that China does not presently have the "capability to make those commitments."
"For the time being we don't have that capability to make those commitments. We hope we will have that capability very soon but it depends on the development process," he said. "When we can take such binding commitments will depend on our capability, our economical development level."
Xuedu said that unlike the United States and Europe, China relies on cheap (i.e. carbon-intensive) energy sources to help its massive population rise out of poverty and achieve a better standard of living.
"No matter what kind of commitment we are going to make to the international community, we believe climate change is a serious issue. In many other countries their government today makes a commitment. Tomorrow their government change, they will say no, this is not my responsibility. This happens in many countries, even in many developed countries. It is like the play games of children. But for us, we're very serious."
The offcial's comments come shortly after a environmental advisory group to the Dutch government reported that China's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions surpassed those of the U.S. for the first time in 2006. In response, the Chinese government said that industrialized countries are hypocritical for criticizing its greenhouse gas emissions while buying its products. China argues that developed countries are effectively outsourcing emissions by shifting manufacturing to its factories.
While China may now top the U.S. in emissions, per capita emissions in China are less than one-quarter of those in the United States. China emits 10,500 pounds of carbon dioxide per person, while in the United States producers nearly 42,500 pounds per person.
CO2 emissions for China, Europe, and the United States, 1850-2003
While China has rejected calls to limit its greenhouse gas emissions, last month it announced its first climate change initiative. According to state media, the National Climate Change Program plan calls for China to reduce energy use 20 percent by 2010, promote carbon sink technologies and other adaptive technologies, raise the efficiency of coal-fired power plants, and increase the amount of renewable energy it produces.
The United States has no such plan.