Singapore (AFP) Nov 14, 2009
Asia-Pacific leaders will drop a fixed target for halving greenhouse gas emissions in a final summit statement, a Chinese official said Saturday.
"On the 50 percent reduction target (from 1990 levels) by 2050, yes, it did appear in the draft," said Yi Xianliang, a Chinese foreign ministry official who is part of the country's negotiating team at world climate talks.
"However, it is a very controversial issue in the world community... if we put it in this (final) statement, I think it would disrupt the negotiation process," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
Leaders from 21 APEC members including US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao are in Singapore for an annual summit ending Sunday.
The meeting is one of the last international gatherings ahead of world climate change talks opening in Copenhagen on December 7.
Chinese officials said Hu would attend a Sunday breakfast meeting called by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd dedicated to the climate change issue, and would give a speech outlining steps China has taken to battle global warming.
Obama is also expected to attend Rudd's climate breakfast, other officials said.
A rift has widened between rich nations such as the United States and developing ones like China over who should bear the most responsibility for reducing the emissions blamed for global warming.
The United States wants China to commit to aggressive steps to curb its rapidly rising emissions.
China, however, says the West bears historical responsibility for the build-up of carbon levels in the atmosphere and must shoulder most of the burden for cutting emissions.
The United States and China are the two largest sources of such emissions.
Yi declined to comment on which nations pushed for the removal of the emission cut target from the draft APEC statement, which was obtained by AFP last week.
"We believe that global emissions will need to peak over the next few years, and be reduced to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, recognising that the time frame for peaking will be longer in developing countries," it had said.
The Chinese official said the excision of the 50-percent target was a "collective decision" by the APEC members.
Yi added that rich nations were increasingly showing a tendency to back away from tough action on climate change.
"It is fair to say that the biggest obstacle to climate change negotiations is the bloc of developed nations," he said.
earlier related report
Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva unveiled their common stance for the December 7-18 Copenhagen summit in a hastily arranged visit by Lula to Paris on Saturday.
Both leaders said they would now try to rally other nations around their "ambitious" position, which aims to reduce greenhouse gases globally by at least 50 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels.
Brazil said Friday it would offer a "voluntary" emissions cut of 36 to 39 percent at the United Nations-sponsored meeting, mainly by slowing Amazon deforestation, while Europe is pledging a 30 percent cut.
So far, though, the United States and China -- the world's two biggest polluters and contributors to climate change -- have no firm commitments on cuts to bring to the table, troubling environmentalists and countries that have stumped up alike.
"This puts the United States in a completely isolated situation," said Greenpeace Brazil executive director Marcelo Furtado.
He said China would present its climate target next week, leaving US President Barack Obama faced with "fulfilling his promises to fight climate change, or continuing the policies of (his predecessor George W.) Bush."
While acknowledging that the France-Brazil tandem added significant pressure on Washington and Beijing, Furtado also described the relationship as a "Jekyll and Hyde" situation for the environment.
"This is the same France that is promoting a nuclear program in Brazil through the construction of Brazil's first nuclear submarine, which is very negative. And this is a France that, with Lula, wants to take a leadership role in Copenhagen so that the summit is not a failure," he told AFP.
To add to the uncertainty, a Chinese foreign ministry official said Asia-Pacific leaders -- Obama included -- have dropped the 50 percent target for reducing greenhouse gases by 2050 in a draft joint statement for a weekend summit underway in Singapore.
Brazilian officials, too, are uneasy about what involvement the United States will bring to the Copenhagen meet, which is meant to draft a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol -- the climate change-fighting treaty that the United States never ratified.
Lula's foreign affairs adviser, Marco Aurelio Garcia, was blunt in his assessment in comments just before the Brazilian president traveled to Paris.
"We're worried Copenhagen will be a fiasco," he said.
"There are risks because the biggest country (the United States) won't be arriving with an ambitious program."
According to a 20-nation poll published this week by WorldPublicOpinion.org, a global project run at the University of Maryland, the United States and China get low marks for their climate change action.
Only 39 percent of people across the developed and developing nations surveyed approved of US policy on climate change, while 36 percent backed China's performance.
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China seeks 'fair' climate outcome but says rich bear burden
Singapore (AFP) Nov 12, 2009
China said Thursday it would seek a "fair and reasonable" result at world climate talks next month but insisted rich nations must bear most of the burden for tackling global warming. "Climate change is an enormous challenge faced by all of mankind and requires a cooperative response by all countries," Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in a speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ... read more
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