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Climate Fund: China Urges Progress

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CHINA CLIMATE CHANGE
Motorists come out from their vehicle to check as the traffic stand still at a city road in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011. | AP
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BEIJING -- China is worried the financial crisis is draining contributions to a multibillion-dollar global warming fund but hopes basic financing to help developing countries deal with climate change can be hammered out this month.

Delegates at a U.N.-sponsored climate change conference that starts Nov. 28 in Durban, South Africa, are to consider ways to raise $100 billion a year for the Green Climate Fund.

Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission and China's lead climate official, told a news conference in Beijing that some countries may not be able to pledge as much as originally planned but he hopes there will be progress in determining how the fund is allocated and managed in the long-term.

China is also pushing for new emissions-reduction targets for developed countries to take effect after the 1997 Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Countries generally have fallen into camps of rich and poor on the issue. Developing countries insist the Kyoto obligations – the individual targets for countries to cut emissions – be extended and new targets adopted. Industrial countries say they want emerging economies to accept similar binding commitments.

Xie reiterated China's stance that developed countries are mainly to blame for the current global warming situation and must take the lead in combatting the problem, while developing countries should not have to face mandatory restraints on emissions because they would hamper efforts to alleviate poverty.

A white paper on China's climate change policies distributed at the news conference said clarifying a new emissions-reduction plan for developed countries was the most urgent task facing negotiators at Durban.

Also important will be securing "new, additional and abundant funds" for developing nations to deal with global warming, it said.

"Climate change hasn't become less important because of the international financial crisis, but it has become less prominent," Xie said. "Some people say that given the economic difficulties in Western countries these days, that it's not the proper time to discuss financing issues."

Xie said China understands that point of view but also believes global economic difficulties are temporary and that progress should be made at Durban on establishing the financing mechanisms for the fund. He said there are multiple options for financing but that the main source will be public funds from developed countries.

"If you have difficulties, for instance, you can donate less money, but the mechanism should be there and we hope, we look forward to positive progress in the allocation and management of these long-term financing mechanisms (in Durban)," Xie said.

China and other emerging economies exempted from the Kyoto pact have sharply increased emissions in recent years, while rejecting calls to commit by treaty to restraints on emissions.

However, China has voluntarily set a target of reducing power consumed per unit of economic output – a measure known as "energy intensity" – by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels, while also increasing the share of energy produced by renewable sources to 15 percent and expanding forest cover.

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