March 17, 2009

"What a tangled web we weave"

China Requests Exports Be Excluded From Climate Change Treaty

WASHINGTON (AFP)--China appealed Monday to exclude the country's giant export sector in drafting a new treaty on climate change, saying that countries that buy the products should bear responsibility.

Climate negotiators from China, Japan and the European Union are meeting in Washington with U.S. global warming pointman Todd Stern as the clock ticks to a December conference in Copenhagen meant to draft a post-Kyoto Protocol deal.

Developed nations demand that growing developing countries such as China and India take action under the new treaty. They had no obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, leading former president George W. Bush to reject it.

Some statistics say China has now surpassed the U.S. as the top emitter of carbon emissions blamed for global warming. But Chinese official Li Gao said that up to 20% of the emissions were from producing exports.

"We are at the low end of the production line for the global economy," said Li, director of the climate change department at China's National Development and Reform Commission.

"We produce products and these products are consumed by other countries, especially the developed countries. This share of emissions should be taken by the consumers but not the producers," he said. "According to many researchers, not just from is a very important item to make a fair agreement."

Li said Beijing wasn't trying to avoid action on climate change, noting that U.S. President Barack Obama in his address to Congress last month said China " has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient."

Li's remarks met immediate skepticism, with other negotiators saying it would be a logistical nightmare to find a way to regulate carbon emissions at exports' destination.

Top E.U. climate negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger noted that the European Union, the Kyoto Protocol's champion, includes major exporters but said they counted emission as produced on their territory.

Asking importers to handle emissions "would mean that we would also like them to have jurisdiction and legislative powers in order to control and limit those and I'm not sure whether my Chinese colleague would agree on that particular point," Runge-Metzger said.

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