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|A Chinese climate change official said
countries share “a common duty and responsibility” to tackle the
issue, even in the absence of an international agreement on what
steps to take.
Nations shouldn’t delay acting on climate change, Sun Zhen, deputy
general counsel at the National Development and Reform Commission’s
department of climate change, said at a global warming forum in Hong
Kong today. “Evidence of the effects of climate change is there,” he
Talks in China aimed at reaching an agreement to mitigate climate
change ended last month with little sign the world’s biggest
greenhouse gas emitters are resolving their differences. The U.S.
wants China and some larger developing countries to accept
international scrutiny of their measures to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions. China said at the Tianjin meeting richer nations should
pledge deeper emissions cuts before developing nations are asked to
“Developed countries should accept their historic responsibilities
over climate change,” Sun said today.
The effects of climate change are visible in Hong Kong, the city’s
environment secretary, Edward Yau, said at the forum. “There is more
torrential rain in evidence.” Public consultation has started on
plans to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, linked to global
warming, he said.
The discussions in Tianjin were the last formal gathering before
envoys meet in Cancun, Mexico, for Nov. 29 to Dec. 10 talks to help
reach an agreement that the UN says is unlikely this year.
China has pledged to cut its output of carbon dioxide per unit of
gross domestic product by 40 to 45 percent in 2020 from 2005 levels.
The nation, the world’s biggest polluter, is also discussing rules
to implement a domestic carbon-trading market to reduce emissions
and promote clean-energy industries, an official said last month.
Envoys at Cancun may agree on frameworks to help mainly developing
countries cope with the effects of global warming and put systems in
place to begin measuring and slowing emissions of greenhouse gases,
a senior European Union official said last month.
The Tianjin talks made “some progress,” Sun said, without
elaborating. He said he hoped the parties at Cancun would come to an
At the United Nations summit on climate change last, negotiators
failed to reach a binding deal to set a framework for greenhouse-gas
reduction when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Instead, they
settled for a political accord calling for $100 billion a year by
2020 to fund climate efforts in poorer nations. They also vowed to
stop global temperature increases at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees
Fahrenheit) higher than in pre- industrial times.
“Time is running short,” Martin Lees, a former senior climate change
adviser to the Chinese government, told the forum. “We are
approaching various tipping points. We have limited time to avoid
irreversible environmental breakdowns.”