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China to set carbon targets?

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The Chinese government is considering setting targets for carbon emissions for the first time, a significant development that could help negotiations on a ‘new’ Kyoto Treaty at Copenhagen later this year. Until now Beijing has rejected carbon emission caps or cuts, arguing that its priority is to improve its people’s living standards – and that the west caused the global warming problem and should fix it. But developed nations argue that they cannot commit to deep cuts and to substantial funding for developing nations to fight climate change unless those countries embrace emissions targets. Any move by China, the world’s fastest expanding major economy, biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and most influential developing nation, would have an enormous impact on the outcome of the Copenhagen summit in December. The debate on China’s role in greenhouse gas reductions is widening. Last month, the Chinese Academy of Science reported that the country’s carbon dioxide emissions relative to GDP should be reduced by 50% by 2020, and that total CO2 emissions should peak between 2030 and 2040 if the country introduced more stringent energy-saving policies and received more financial support and technology from overseas. China now produces 24% of the world’s CO2 emissions ahead of the USA (22%), the EU (12%), India (8%) and Russia (6%).

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