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Planet Ark World Environment News China Wants Climate Talks To Back Technology Fund

Date: 06-Dec-07
Country: CHINA
Author: Chris Buckley

At talks in Bali to start crafting an international agreement to fight climate change after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, some rich countries have said a new pact must spell out greenhouse gas goals for all big emitters.

China is emerging as the planet's biggest source of carbon dioxide from industry, vehicles and farms that is trapping more atmospheric heat and threatening disastrous climate change. Under Kyoto, it and other poor countries do not shoulder fixed goals to control such pollution.

While Beijing fends off calls for targets, it will press its own demands, especially that rich nations back a big boost in funds to encourage the spread of clean technology, Chinese climate policy advisers told Reuters.

"We want to see a substantial fund for technology transfers and development," said Zou Ji of the People's University of China in Beijing, a member of his country's delegation to Bali.

"There's been a lot of talk about developing and spreading clean coal-power and other emissions-cutting technology, but the results have been puny, and we want the new negotiations to show that developed countries are now serious about it."

That fund could come under a "new body to promote technology transfers," he said, adding that it would take some time for negotiations to settle on specifics.

China's demand for clear vows on technology, as well as a big boost in funds for adaptation to droughts, floods and rising sea levels caused by global warming, is real enough.

It also part of Beijing's effort to keep a united front with other developing countries and shine the spotlight back on rich nations, especially the United States, the world's biggest emitter, which has refused to ratify Kyoto.

"The real obstacle is the United States," said Hu Tao of Beijing Normal University, who previously worked in a state environmental think tank. "China must surely be part of any solution. But the answer has to start what the developed countries do to cut their own emissions and help us cut ours."

China says it is unfair to demand that it accept emissions limits when global warming has been caused by wealthy countries' long-accumulated pollution.

CLEAN POWER TECHNOLOGY

The United Nations recently issued data showing that Americans produced an average 20.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide each in 2004, versus 3.8 tonnes each for Chinese people.

A senior Chinese climate change policy-maker, Gao Guangsheng, last week told Reuters that China's hopes to obtain clean power-generation equipment had been frustrated by foreign politicians' and companies' worries about intellectual property theft, foregone profits and sensitive technology.

The adviser Zou said a technology transfer body could pair government support with private investors, easing worries about commercial returns and intellectual property safeguards.

China has set itself ambitious domestic targets to increase energy efficiency and replace carbon-belching coal with renewable energy sources, but it failed to meet its efficiency target in 2006.

An influx of funds could underwrite joint research projects and help developing countries create their own energy-saving devices, said Zhang Haibin, an expert on climate change negotiations at Peking University.

"The point is that we don't just want to buy fish. We want to learn how to fish for ourselves," Zhang said. "But if you want to keep selling fish for high prices, you won't teach me."

(Editing by Nick Macfie)

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