A Chinese official gave the clearest sign yet that Beijing will reject binding caps on greenhouse gas emissions at a global meeting next month, saying Friday developing countries must be allowed to raise emissions to fight poverty.
Beijing is about to overtake the United States as the world's top greenhouse-gas producer. It is under pressure from Washington to accept binding limits at a meeting in Indonesia of environment ministers from 80 nations to discuss a possible replacement to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on emission reductions.
Nations agreed in Kyoto to cut output of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases to below 1990 levels by 2012. But China, India and other developing economies are exempt.
"Climate change is caused mainly by developed countries," Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui said. "They should have the main responsibility for climate change and to reduce emissions."
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"Most developing countries are in the process of industrialization and urbanization, and they face the arduous task of poverty reduction," Zhang said. "So they need a large period of time for continuous energy demand growth with the growth of greenhouse gas emissions."
Zhang did not say directly what Beijing's position would be at the meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali, and he did not take questions from reporters.
A European Union official who met this week with Chinese leaders said they told him in private meetings that Beijing could not accept any binding obligations.
Zhang was speaking at a ceremony to launch a fund to channel money from emissions-reduction credits into environmental projects.
The fund will collect a share of Chinese companies' revenues under a system that allows industries in developed economies to offset pollution by paying others to reduce emissions. Beijing has promoted that system among its companies while resisting emissions caps.
China's stunning economic growth means it accounted for 58 percent of carbon emissions worldwide in 2000-06, the International Energy Agency said in a report this week.