Global warming: India in a fix as China pledges big emission cuts

BEIJING: China has announced that it will cut emissions by a drastic 40-45 per cent compared to 2005 levels by the year 2020. The pledge, which is far ahead of the promises made by the United States, is also expected to cause jitters in New Delhi and raise questions about the efficacy of the India-China deal on the issue.

There is also a sense that Beijing has pre-empted other developing countries as it made the announcement a day before it was set to hold dialogue on Friday with India, South Africa and Brazil on preparations for the Copenhagen conference on climate change in December.

Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh is set to meet Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and Xie Zhenhua, deputy head of the powerful National Development and Reform Commission in Beijing. This meeting follows recent discussions on climate change held by US president Barack Obama with Chinese leaders and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

China’s emission levels are a lot more than India, which may be expected to set lower targets. But New Delhi has been reluctant to announce any targets at all. Beijing’s announcement will put pressure on India, South Africa and Brazil to announce targets if they wish to stick with China in a joint front at the Copenhagen meeting, sources explained.

It is Xie, who made the announcement that China would aim to cut carbon intensity — the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product — by a range of 40% to 45% by 2020. It came a day after Obama said the US intends to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, and by 83% by 2050.

Xie also said premier Wen will attend the global climate change summit in Copenhagen next month. He also indicated Beijing will use the meeting to push developed nations to be less miserly in sharing green technology and contributing funds.

“So far we have not seen concrete actions and substantive commitments by the developed countries,” Xie said at the press conference. “As we’ve made this commitment, well, Chinese people stick to their word,” he further said suggesting China was ready to stand by its promise.

But it is not clear if Beijing was prepared to allow outside world to carry out investigation on the implementation of its environmental program. Both India and China had earlier opposed any outside interference on this issue.

China has proposed that developed nations contribute 1 per cent of gross domestic product to subsidize efforts by poorer nations to cut carbon-dioxide emissions. That translates to more than $140 billion for the US alone. Of course, Washington is far from accepting it.

“Appropriate handling of the climate change issue is of vital interest to China’s social and economic development and people’s fundamental interests, as well as the welfare of all the people in the world and the world’s long-term development,” the Chinese State Council said in the statement.

From TOI

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