Developed countries should fulfill their emissions commitments

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Chinese climate experts have urged developed countries to fulfill their emissions reduction commitments in wake of the UN climate change conference in Durban, South Africa, a meeting that saved the global climate talks from collapse.

The 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) was scheduled to end last Friday, but because of strong divisions on some hot issues among parties, the conference was extended an extra day.

After 14 days of talks, the conference agreed to establish a working group to launch a process to develop a protocol that will arrange emissions-cutting pledges after 2020. It is the first inclusive emissions cut arrangement, which is expected to come into effect in 2020.

The conference also extended by five years the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 agreement that has binding emissions targets for some developed countries.

Chen Ying, vice director of the Research Center for Sustainable Development of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the achievements made at the conference will boost the efforts in coping with climate change.

However, the lack of developed countries' political will hinder cooperation on addressing climate change by the international community, Chen added.

At the end of the Durban conference, Xie Zhenhua, head of the Chinese delegation, criticized "some countries," referring to developed countries with binding emissions-cuts obligations under the Kyoto Protocol that had not met their commitments to reducing greenhouse emissions and supporting developing countries in this regard with financial and technical aid.

Cao Rongxiang, a climate expert from the Compilation and Translation Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, noted that developed countries almost did "nothing" in emissions reductions required by the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol is the only legally binding treaty that sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European Union to slash carbon emissions to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Cao said that developed countries have not started their technical aid to developing countries, and some even use intellectual property protection as an excuse.

In contrast, China, which does not have mandatory emissions cuts obligations under the protocol, has been making efforts in energy saving and emissions reduction, even though China's economic growth will certainly means more energy consumption.

China first promulgated its control on greenhouse gas emissions in 2009, when it pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2020.

By 2015, the carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP will be reduced 17 percent compared to the level in 2010, according to the country's 12th Five-Year-Plan period (2011-2015).

In fact, China's carbon dioxide emissions have far outstripped developed countries over the past 20 years, as the carbon dioxide emissions of per unit of GDP dropped 55 percent from 1990 to 2009, according to a government report released last month.

"Developed countries should fully perform their roles and adhere to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities," Cao said.

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