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Climate change law to bring teeth to emissions mandates
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China's proposed climate change legislation will give the country more negotiating power in the upcoming international climate change treaty talks, and also make emissions control mandated by law, environmental experts say.

China is considering putting climate legislation on its legislative agenda, according to a draft resolution on climate change, which has been submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC).

"China will draw up new laws and regulations to provide a legal basis for combating climate change," said Wang Guangtao, director of the NPC's environment and resource protection committee.

The resolution shows good coordination between the government and legislative body in advance of the Copenhagen meeting, said Yang Fuqiang, director of global climate change solutions at environmental group WWF.

"Once the government signs the new treaty, the NPC will ratify it," he said.

More than 190 nations will meet in December in Copenhagen to negotiate a follow-up to the United Nations Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding targets for industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The United States is the only developed country that hasn't ratified the climate pact.

"The former US president signed the Kyoto Protocol back in 1997, but when the official delegation came back with the treaty, the Senate refused to ratify it," Yang said.

Also, once the proposed climate change laws are worked out, China will have "legally binding actions" to fight the illegal emissions, said Zhang Jianyu, China program head of the US-based Environmental Defense Fund.

"China already has a bunch of laws and regulations related to climate change and environmental protection, but the climate legislation will give the forces fighting global warming more legal power," Zhang said.

Existing laws and regulations related to climate change and environment protection - such as the Energy Saving Law, Renewable Energy Law, and the Circular Economy Promotion Law - should be revised to better combat global warming, according to the draft resolution, which is expected to be passed on Thursday.

The draft legislation also calls for the improvement of the country's ability to adapt to climate change, with monitoring and early warning systems. Also, the law urges preparation against extreme weather and climate disasters.

The country must intensify the development of agricultural infrastructure, promote agricultural restructuring, increase research and development on water-saving technologies, and strengthen monitoring and protection of coastal environments, it said.

The resolution says the country needs to speed up research, development and promotion of key technologies in energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean energy and low-carbon energy. It also calls for specific plans and policies to develop a "green economy" and a low-carbon economy, including increasing "green investment", and advocating "green consumption" and "green growth".

"We should make carbon reduction a new source of economic growth, and change the economic development model to maximize efficiency, lower energy consumption and minimize carbon discharges," the draft law says.

(China Daily August 26, 2009)

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