China wants rich nations to take lead in climate talks

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BEIJING, Nov 22 (Reuters) China wants next month's international talks on global warming to focus on future greenhouse gas cuts by rich countries and moving more ''clean'' technology to poor countries, an official said today.

China is emerging as the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from factories, farms and vehicles that traps more heat in the atmosphere, threatening to bring dangerous, even catastrophic, climate changes.

Next month in Bali, countries will start what are sure to be tough negotiations over how to fight global warming after the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012.

The United States, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has refused to sign the protocol, which the Bush administration has called unfair and ineffective.

With China's greenhouse gas output set to soar, many Western politicians want Beijing to spell out its goals for limiting emissions growth -- something developing countries are not obliged to do under Kyoto.

But Song Dong, an official in the Chinese Foreign Ministry's section preparing for the Bali talks, said negotiations should focus on developed countries' responsibilities, not China.

''Now I think the most crucial task is to complete negotiations for emissions reductions by developed countries after 2012,'' Song told a news conference.

He said rich countries also needed to ''do better in transferring (emissions reducing) technology so developing countries can afford it. That's one of our fundamental claims in the climate change sphere.'' Song spoke at a briefing on China's response to a UN panel report summing up forecasts for global warming. Chinese experts at the briefing said climate change could drastically damage their country's coastlines, water resources and farms.

The country's pattern of abundant rains in the south and dry and drought in the north could be reversed, bringing turbulent changes to farming, said Luo Yong, a deputy director of the national metereological centre.

''In the future, it may change to dry in the south and floods in the north,'' he said, adding that scientists remained uncertain about the effects of global warning on rain patterns.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday that Beijing would hold a meeting next year for Asian countries to discuss climate change.

But China also remains committed to rapid economic growth that will lift greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come.

China's contribution to global carbon emissions by 2030 would rise to more than a quarter from a fifth now, while its per capita contribution would still be less than half the United States, the International Energy Agency said this month.

Song said the Bali talks had to focus on adapting to inevitable climate change as well as cutting rich countries' emissions.

''Because developing countries are extremely vulnerable in the face of climate change, so for them the issue of adaptation is more prominent,'' he said.

REUTERS SZ HT1240

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