BEIJING (AFP) – Chinese state media sounded a note of caution Thursday on efforts to reduce carbon emissions, stressing “orderly” progress after Beijing set a goal for its emissions to peak “around 2030”.
China is by far the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide which scientists say drives climate change, but has resisted targets on reducing output on the basis that it is still a developing country.
The Global Times daily, which has links to China’s ruling Communist party, hailed the pledge as a “landmark,” but added that Beijing would not make dramatic cuts.
“Europe and the US have always been calling on us to reduce emissions, and it’s not that we don’t want to. But China is after all a developing country,” the newspaper said in an editorial in its Chinese language edition.
“People are still pursuing their basic rights to a moderate level of prosperity and a better standard of living,” the paper said.
China’s announcement of the goal – which lacks a precisely specified date – was made as visiting US President Barack Obama said Washington would aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2025.
The announcements came ahead of crucial international talks on climate change due to take place in Paris next year, and Chinese president Xi Jinping said they were was aimed at helping ensure agreement at the negotiations.
But the text of the joint statement referred to “differentiated responsibilities” and the Global Times signalled that Western countries should expect Chinese negotiators to maintain their stance that as a developing country China has less of an obligation to reduce emissions.
“The West is gradually coming to accept China acting in this way. This is a victory for realism,” the paper added.
The government-published China Daily hailed the goals as “exemplary” in its editorial and said the Chinese aim was “a huge commitment for this country of 1.3 billion people”.
The European Union pledged last month to reduce emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.
The EU accounts for 11 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, compared to 16 per cent for the United States and 29 per cent for China.