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China Wants Climate Agreement by Next Year, Economic Times Says

China wants a binding global climate-change agreement by late 2011, the China Economic Times reported today, citing Li Gao, a Chinese negotiator.

China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, hopes definite measures for the next decade will be implemented after the United Nations conference in South Africa scheduled for the end of next year, Li told the newspaper. The biggest obstacle to reaching an accord is the U.S., he said.

Without domestic legislation, the U.S. can’t participate in forming a legally binding international agreement, he said, as cited by the Economic Times.

UN and national envoys have said chances concluding a treaty to reduce global warming gas emissions are slim after the Copenhagen summit in 2009 produced only a non-binding accord. UN talks failed because developing nations called for richer countries to adopt tighter targets on the gases blamed for global warming.

China and India say developed nations must cut emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, and poorer countries need room to raise their greenhouse gases to allow them to grow.

China has pledged to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide it emits for each unit of economic output by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.

Li, head of international negotiations at the National Development and Reform Commission, which represents China in the talks along with the Foreign Ministry, said participants have “pragmatic” expectations of this year’s summit in Cancun, Mexico. He added that this does not mean the Cancun meeting can’t make any progress.

Developing countries should continue to put pressure on developed countries to reduce emissions, he said.

If negotiations don’t reach a conclusion, the world should focus on agreeing on areas such as technology transfer, adaptation, planting of forests and reducing emissions from burning forests, he said.

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