China says is world's top greenhouse gas emitter

Tue Nov 23, 2010 9:17am GMT
 

By Chris Buckley

BEIJING Nov 23 (Reuters) - China acknowledged on Tuesday it is the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases stoking global warming, confirming what scientists have said for years but defending its right to keep growing emissions.

China's chief negotiator in international climate change talks, Xie Zhenhua, made the comment while spelling out his government's position ahead of negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, from Nov. 29 over a new global pact to fight global warming.

Scientists and overseas bodies have said that since 2006-2007, China's greenhouse gas pollution has surpassed the United States', the world's top emitter for the 20th century.

But until now Beijing has hedged. Its officials have said it may possibly be the top emitter, that the issue needs more study or that average emissions per capita is a fairer measure to guide policy.

"Now we stand at world number one in emissions volumes," Xie told a news conference in Beijing.

Rich countries should nevertheless lead with steep cuts in their emissions, said Xie, since over time they have contributed most to the build-up of greenhouse gases trapping more solar heat in the atmosphere, and they should give poorer countries room to grow their economies and emissions.

"China is taking steps in the hope that we can peak (in emissions) as early as possible," he said.

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