New climate pact must consider historical emissions

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A new global pact under discussion at the ongoing UN climate talks should take into account historical carbon emissions by developed countries, a Chinese official said on Thursday.

Su Wei, deputy chief of the Chinese delegation, said industrialized countries are mainly responsible for greenhouse gas emissions in the past two hundred years.

The current climate change was caused mainly by developed countries since the industrial era as greenhouse gas has an atmospheric life of 50 to 200 years, he said.

"It is important to take the historical responsibility element into the context of climate actions after 2020," said Su, who is also director of the climate change department of China's National Development and Reform Commission.

China supports Brazil's proposal to study the historical responsibility for the accumulated carbon emissions, he added.

The two-week climate talks held in the Polish capital is set to lay the groundwork for a new global climate agreement to be signed in 2015 with binding targets on emission reductions for post-2020 period.

Su also called for concerted efforts from all countries as global warming is a common threat, saying the recent super typhoon in the Philippines serves as an immediate warning to humanity.

Admitting that China is a leading emitter at present, he stressed that the Asian country is far below the average emission level in historical terms, and its per capita emission level is lower than that of most developed countries.

"China is in the process of industrialization and modernization," he said. "The emissions will arise to some extent, but we are trying to limit the increase rate."

Finance is key for Warsaw talks

A major issue at the Warsaw conference is securing a fund from rich nations to help climate efforts in developing countries.

"We want to see a real provision of financial resources by parties," said Su, referring to a pledge by developed countries to mobilize 100 billion U.S. dollars per year by 2020.

Finance arrangement is expected to be elaborated in ministerial-level talks next week, along with other issues such as a loss and damage mechanism to help developing countries worst hit by global warming.

EU and Japan fall short of expectation

Su also urged the European Union (EU) to raise its target of greenhouse gas emission reductions, saying the goal to cut 20 percent by 2020 is little progress from the current levels of nearly 18 percent.

"They are almost there and they are certainly going to overachieve their targets by 2020," said Su. "They call it ambitious, but I told my colleagues it's no ambition at all."

Meanwhile, Japan's new target of cutting carbon emissions by 3.8 percent by 2020 compared to its 2005 levels is disappointing, Su noted.

"I don't have any words to describe my dismay," he said.

Japan's 2020 target will see an increase of 3.1 percent of carbon emissions from its 1990 levels, in sharp contrast with the fact that most nations pledge to cut emissions from the 1990 baseline.

"This is not only backward movement from the Kyoto Protocol, but also a startling backward movement from the Convention," Su told reporters.

Japan agreed to the first commitment period of the legally-binding Kyoto Protocol, which sets obligations of industrialized countries by 2012on emissions reductions, but did not commit to the second period from 2013 to 2020.

Japan still has the responsibility to implement the first commitment period, and as a party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, it must honor its commitments to reducing their emissions, said Su.

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