China and the US far from climate agreement
China wants importing countries to pay for pollution made by Chinese factories. Top climate negotiator says it wouldn't be fair to hold China accountable, because "we are on the lower end of the economic chain of the global economy".
Nine months before the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December, the two top polluters of carbon dioxide, China and the United States, are worlds apart on agreement on climate.
That is the conclusion, according to The Miami Herald, after the Chinese top climate negotiator's visit to Washington on Monday. Li Gao, the director of China's climate change office, met with his American counterpart, Todd Stern, and negotiators from Japan and the European Union, according to the French news agency AFP.
Li Gao said that China would not accept full responsibility for the emissions made by Chinese factories producing for export. China wants consumers in importing countries to pay.
"For many developing countries, not only China, we produce the products for the consumers, especially in developed countries," Li said. He argued it wouldn't be fair to hold China accountable, because "we are on the lower end of the economic chain of the global economy."
According to AFP, Li’s remark was met with scepticism. Other negotiators said that it would be a logistical nightmare to regulate carbon emissions in importing countries. The top EU climate negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger said that asking importers to handle emissions "would mean that we would also like them to have jurisdiction and legislative powers in order to control and limit those and I'm not sure whether my Chinese colleague would agree on that particular point."
According to The Miami Herald, Li Gao was perfectly aware of the risk of importing countries imposing tariffs on imports from China. He called it a "disaster" – and the possible start of a trade war – if the US did it.
China and The United States did not sign the Kyoto Protocol agreed by other countries 17 years ago to reduce global warming. The UN aims for a global agreement on a new treaty in Copenhagen in December.