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EU demands greater climate commitment from China at summit

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-11-30

The European Union asked for China to take on more responsibility to resolve the problem of global at the 12th China-EU summit in Nanjing, which preempts the crucial UN climate conference in Copenhagen.

AFP - The EU said Monday cataclysmic climate change cannot be averted without Chinese leadership, as the two sides wrapped up a summit with China defending its efforts against global warming.

"We cannot solve the climate challenge to mankind without China taking on leadership and responsibility," Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said in his capacity as EU president.

"So far our belief is the global effort put on the table for mitigation is not enough... more needs to be done," he said at a post-summit address with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Reinfeldt did not specifically criticise a Chinese plan announced last week ahead of global climate talks in Copenhagen to slow growth in its carbon emissions.

Barroso had told reporters Sunday that the EU had urged China to explore the "outer limits" of their position.

Wen, however, defended China's offer, saying it marked "a major contribution to global efforts" against climate change.

"China places high importance on the upcoming Copenhagen conference," he said.

"China is willing to work to move the conference in the right direction."

Beijing said last week that by 2020 it would curb emissions per unit of gross domestic product by between 40 and 45 percent compared to 2005 levels.

The pledge was not to cut greenhouse gas emissions but was essentially a vow of greater energy efficiency that would see China's fast-growing emissions continue to grow along with its economy.

Wen also responded to European calls for greater yuan exchange rate flexibility by saying the stability of the nation's currency was vital for China.

Wen said "to maintain the stability of the renminbi (yuan) exchange rate is critical to China's economic stability."

Top European economic and finance officials on Sunday had urged a "gradual and orderly" appreciation of the yuan.

Europe fears the euro's rise against the yuan will hurt EU exports to China and slow the continent's economic recovery.

In a low-profile weekend meeting of developing nations in Beijing, participants reiterated the Chinese position that developed countries must shoulder the burden of carbon emissions cuts.

The official People's Daily newspaper said the meeting of representatives from China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Sudan, agreed to ask "developed countries to assume responsibility for emissions reduction targets".

World leaders will gather in Copenhagen for the December 7-18 United Nations conference tasked with framing a new deal for tackling global warming beyond 2012.

Leaders have warned that slow progress so far means the meeting is likely at best to yield a framework accord whose legally binding details would be hammered out next year.

At Monday's joint press appearance, Barroso said: "The European Union and China and other major players in these negotiations can always negotiate with numbers, but we can not negotiate with science, with physics,"

The EU has offered to cut its emissions by 20 percent by 2020 based on 1990 levels, and pledged to raise that to 30 percent if an ambitious international agreement can be reached.

The White House last week said US President Barack Obama would offer to cut carbon emissions by 17 percent by 2020, based on 2005 levels.

Date created : 2009-11-30

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