COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 7 (UPI) — As world leaders gathered for the Monday opening of the U.N. climate-change conference in Copenhagen, a Chinese minister said his country’s carbon emissions would peak between 2030 and 2040.
Wan Gang, minister of science and technology, told the Guardian he hoped the maximum output of Chinese greenhouse gases would come as soon as possible within that range.
While Wan’s comments to the newspaper are not official policy, it is the nearest China has ventured in setting a target for when emissions will begin to decrease. Various experts, research groups and academics in China have estimated that emissions could peak between 2020 or 2050, although the government has yet to officially announce a target.
Determining a peak date for developing countries, which are experiencing quickly rising emissions, is a crucial issue for some 192 world leaders meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 7-18 to agree on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Under Kyoto, China was exempt from any requirement to control emissions.
“There are some uncertainties here, so it is difficult to say whether it will be in the beginning, the end or the middle, but I can say for sure it will be within that range,” Wan said in predicting the emissions peak occurring between 2030 and 2040. “As the minister of science and technology I would say the sooner the better.”
Wan said unpredictable factors such as the pace of China’s economic growth, increases in urbanization, and the level of scientific strides would affect the timing of the emissions peak. Attaining the earlier date in the range, he added, would be possible if China continued to invest in renewable energy efficiency, implemented carbon capture technology and promoted changes in consumer behavior.
China, the world’s biggest emitter of carbon, will account for approximately 29 percent of total global emissions by 2030, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration,
Beijing announced its first carbon intensity target Nov. 26, saying it would cut carbon emissions per unit of its gross domestic product by between 40 percent and 45 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. Even with this cut, the country’s output of carbon dioxide is expected to increase by about 90 percent if the economy grows by 8 percent.
China’s Nov. 26 announcement “has assisted in triggering fresh momentum” in the days running up to the Copenhagen talks, Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the office of the U.N. Environment Program executive director, told state news agency Xinhua Saturday. “It underscores China’s determination to continue and accelerate the decoupling of CO2 emissions from economic growth,” he said.
Nuttall noted that China’s announcement, alongside commitments and pledges by other countries or blocs like the European Union, Brazil, Mexico and the Republic of Korea, is bringing the opportunity of a decisive agreement in Copenhagen much closer than perhaps was the case only a few months ago.
Xinhua predicts tough negotiations at the Copenhagen meeting.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International