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China to Urge Extending Kyoto Accord in Durban Climate Talks

China Electricity
Chimneys vent exhaust as workers operate to construct a new electricity power generating plant in Changshu, Jiangsu Province, China on Friday, March 18, 2011. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, will maintain the stance of developing countries to extend the Kyoto Protocol to address climate change, its chief envoy said ahead of negotiations in South Africa next week.

Approving a second commitment period for the climate agreement is “the key” to multilateral mitigation worldwide, Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, said today at a briefing in Beijing.

“Before 2020, each country should first meet their own commitment to combat climate change,” Xie said.

More than 190 nations will meet in Durban on Nov. 28 to Dec. 9 to discuss climate regulations after 2012, when the current emission-reduction targets for developed nations under the Kyoto Protocol expire. Countries including Japan and Russia have said they don’t want to extend Kyoto unless it’s expanded to bring in the U.S. and China.

China expects developed countries under the protocol to clarify their quantities for emissions reductions under the second commitment period during the Durban conference, while those not covered by the accord should pledge comparable targets, Xie said. “Developing countries should make voluntary emission-reduction commitments.”

Under Kyoto’s first enforcement period, 35 nations and the European Union committed to cut emissions by a collective 5.2 percent from the 1990 levels by 2012.

Some nations are turning down the extension of the protocol to emphasize “environmental integrity,” Xie said. “This is an excuse as most of the countries have made commitments after the Copenhagen talks” in 2009.

‘Running Out of Time’

Delegates at the United Nations-led climate talks must look beyond an extension of Kyoto to address climate change, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa’s minister of international relations, said Oct. 21, because countries are “running out of time.”

No matter other nations agree to do, the Chinese government will always carry on actions toward its target to mitigate climate change, said Xie. China has set a goal to cut emissions per unit of economic growth in 2020 by as much as 45 percent from the 2005 levels.

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