China Prepares Climate Change Policy Paper Ahead of G-8 Summit

June 1, 2007

China plans to release a national plan to combat climate change next week, Chinese officials said Thursday, paving the way for President Hu Jintao’s attendance at an industrialized nations’ summit that is contentiously grappling with global warming.

The national program, to be announced by China’s top economic planner, will encourage energy conservation and promote use of new technology to trap greenhouse gases, an official with the economic planning agency said at a media briefing on Hu’s trip to next week’s Group of Eight summit.

Most of the plan would focus on short-term goals, to be achieved by 2010, the official said, and among the policies will be more tree-planting to expand forest cover.

Though he and other officials – all of whom spoke on customary condition of anonymity – provided few details about the plan, they said Hu was prepared to address the challenges posed by global warming and other major issues when he meets with G-8 leaders in Germany on June 8.

Hu faces a tough balancing act at the G-8 summit, trying to portray China as a responsible global power while often pursuing policies at odds with many of the major industrialized nations who comprise the G-8.

While now the world’s third-largest economy, China has kept the G-8 at arm’s length, preferring to attend this and the last three gatherings as a representative of developing countries.

China has come under increasing pressure from the United States and the European Union to reduce ballooning trade surpluses to help rebalance global growth _ a key G-8 mission. At this year’s meeting, Hu is also expected to face questioning about China’s robust economic presence in Africa and on climate change.

China is expected to surpass the United States as the largest emitter of the greenhouse gases that are believed to contribute to global warming, perhaps as early as next year. But it, as well as the United States and India, have resisted the mandatory emissions caps favored by some Western governments. Instead Beijing has called on the industrialized countries – the core G-8 membership – to take the lead.

At the briefing by 11 officials from four government agencies, officials portrayed global warming as largely the fault of G-8 members wrought by 200 years of industrialization. But they said China would play a role commensurate with that of a developing country and would welcome Western technological and financial assistance.

“Though developed countries are to blame for climate change, the problem needs the common efforts of all countries,” said a mid-ranking Foreign Ministry official. “Each country needs to make efforts according to its responsibilities, level of development and abilities.”

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