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UN chief says China is crucial to any climate change accord

3 min

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called on China to take the lead internationally on climate change. The UN chief went on to say that there could not be a successful climate change accord unless China is involved.


AFP - UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on China Friday to exercise greater leadership in world efforts to curb climate change, saying a new global framework deal cannot be reached this year without Beijing.

"Without China there can be no success this year on a new global climate framework deal," Ban said during a speech to launch a programme promoting environmentally friendly lighting in China.

"But with China there is an enormous potential for the world to seal a deal in Copenhagen."

Ban will oversee a UN summit in the Danish capital in December aimed at hammering out a new climate change pact to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that are blamed for global warming.

China and other developing nations are opposed to any compulsory cuts in their emissions, saying the responsibility for solving the problem rests with the developed countries that have polluted for so long.

But Ban noted that China was a top world emitter of greenhouse gases and said Beijing should play a leadership role on climate change that is commensurate with its rising global status.

"With global power comes global responsibility," Ban said.

Ban noted that China had made "enormous" progress on promoting the use of green energy such as solar and wind power and urged further efforts to limit the country's reliance on the use of heavily polluting coal.

Coal makes up about 70 percent of China's energy consumption and, according to Ban, accounts for 85 percent of the nation's carbon emissions.

Amid hopes for some sort of compromise on the framework deal, Ban said China's decisions leading up to the Copenhagen summit would be crucial in setting the foundations for any deal there.

"Strong signals from China on mitigation actions announced before Copenhagen will help push the negotiating process forward. They can also direct responsibility to other key countries to do more," he said.

State press reports this year have said China was prepared to commit to improved energy efficiency as its contribution to the talks, but no details of such targets have been set out.

Ban stressed it was in China's own interest to curb emissions, saying climate change would likely increase desertification in the country, cut crop yields and melt Himalayan glaciers -- with harmful effects for China and its neighbours.

"China has long been the world's fastest-growing major economy," Ban said.

"It is also a leading emitter of greenhouse gases, and it is one of the countries most vulnerable to the impact of climate change."

The US Congress is considering legislation that would reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. But China has said such cuts are not enough.

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