WASHINGTON – Countries importing Chinese goods should be responsible for the heat-trapping gases released during manufacturing, a top Chinese official said Monday.
Li Gao, China's top climate negotiator, said that any fair international agreement to curb the gases blamed for global warming would not require China to reduce emissions caused by goods manufactured to meet demand elsewhere.
China has surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. But 15 to 25 percent of its emissions are generated by manufacturing goods for export, Gao said.
"As one of the developing countries, we are at the low end of the production line for the global economy. We produce products and these products are consumed by other countries. ... This share of emissions should be taken by the consumers, but not the producers," Gao said during a briefing at the Capitol's visitor center.
Gao directs the climate change department at the National Development and Reform Commission.
China's stance could be one of the stumbling blocks facing the U.S., China's largest trading partner, when negotiations to broker a new international treaty begin in Copenhagen in December.
Gao said China was not alone in thinking that emissions generated by the production of exports should be dealt with by importing countries.
Neither China nor the U.S. ratified the last agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
China has long insisted that developed nations bear the main responsibility for cutting emissions. As president, George W. Bush refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol because he said developing nations like India and China should not be exempt.
Gao, along with Vice Chairman Xie Zhenhua of the National Development and Reform Commission, were in Washington to meet with top officials of the Obama administration, which has indicated a willingness to participate in a global treaty.
Zhenhua met with U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern at the State Department on Monday. The talks in Copenhagen were among the topics discussed, said State Department spokesman Robert Wood.
"There's a willingness, particularly on the Chinese side, to really engage on the subject of climate change, and we welcome that," Wood said.