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China May Announce Emissions Cap Next Year: Treaty Envoy

China hopes to announce “very ambitious” goals to cut carbon-dioxide output after 2020 and may announce during the first half of next year an overall cap on emissions, the country’s lead climate-treaty negotiator said.

China is working to announce in the first or second quarter of next year what measures it might include in a new global agreement to fight climate change that treaty envoys from 194 nations aim to devise by year-end, Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, told reporters today in Berlin.

“We’re hoping the contribution can be announced in the first half of next year; perhaps in the first quarter,” Xie said, according to an interpreter. “The capping year might be included in that statement and if there is a capping statement, I hope and believe that would be a very ambitious one.”

China’s actions are crucial to the success of a new global agreement, because it’s now the world’s biggest producer of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, and is exempted from caps under the existing global-warming treaty, the Kyoto Protocol. The emissions of China and the biggest developed emitter, the U.S., account for more than two-fifths of the global total.

Xie last month said China for the first time is working on how to cap and then begin reducing its total greenhouse gases, without specifying when an announcement might be made.

The U.S. and other developed countries have said there’s no value in establishing a new agreement that doesn’t include targets for developing countries, because their growing emissions threaten to swamp the cuts made in industrialized economies.

President Barack Obama’s administration on June 2 announced it would restrict emissions from existing power stations in the U.S. The measures call for a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions from the plants by 2030 and would reduce the role of coal in generating electricity.

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