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China Resists Emission Caps in Climate Policy


NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing.

ANTHONY KUHN: Ma Kai is director of China's National Development and Reform Commission, the economic planning body that prepared the plan. He told reporters that for developing nations, the global warming issue is all about development.


MA KAI: (Through translator) Their overriding priority at the moment is still economic development and poverty eradication. So when calling for efforts to tackle climate change, the international community should take into full account the right to development of these developing countries.

KUHN: Ma restated China's position that mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions would unfairly limit China's room for economic growth. He said that China will reduce emissions in order to keep its development sustainable, not because of international pressure.

KAI: (Through translator) China does not commit to any quantified emissions reduction commitments, but that does not mean that China will not shoulder its share of responsibility for global climate change.

KUHN: China currently meets two-thirds of its energy needs from coal, one of the most polluting fuels. Ma said that China aims to leapfrog directly to cleaner technologies.

KAI: (Through translator) In its course of modernization, China will not tread the traditional path to industrialization featuring high consumption and high emissions. Instead, we want to blaze a new path.


KUHN: Pan Jiahua is director of the Sustainable Development Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He helped to draft the national plan, but he's skeptical that China can meet its emissions reduction targets in the short term.

PAN JIAHUA: (Through translator) America has been successful in using market mechanisms to raise energy efficiency and protect the environment. We need to learn from this. China still relies on old methods of command and control that are not very effective.

KUHN: Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.