BEIJING — China’s envoy to global negotiations on climate change expressed optimism on Wednesday that a new agreement to reduce greenhouse gases would be reached this year, and he said that his nation’s efforts to curb carbon pollution already had produced results that he called “second to none.”
But the envoy, Yu Qingtai, also underscored China’s opposition to placing a ceiling on its emissions of greenhouse gases, a step that some experts have called crucial to efforts to slow global warming.
China now emits more carbon dioxide than the United States, although it remains well behind when pollutants are measured on a per-person basis. Together, China and the United States account for about 40 percent of pollutants linked to climate change.
In a briefing at China’s Foreign Ministry, Mr. Yu presented a list of Chinese achievements in limiting carbon emissions, including claims that Beijing is the world’s foremost user of nonpolluting hydropower and solar power, and fourth in wind power. By 2020, he said, 15 percent of China’s energy will come from renewable sources.
Mr. Yu also said the nation had made impressive strides in energy efficiency, reducing the amount of energy used per unit of gross domestic product by a tenth since 2005. The government has said it will achieve a total reduction of 20 percent by 2020, a goal Mr. Yu called “a binding target.”
Mr. Yu said he was hopeful that a comprehensive agreement to reduce greenhouse gases could be reached at a December meeting in Copenhagen, where nations will try to devise a successor to the protocol reached at a 1997 United Nations meeting in Kyoto, Japan. Part of that optimism, he said, stemmed from the fact that global climate problems are so fearsome that “we cannot afford to fail.”
“Not a single country in the world will be able to stay out of trouble,” he said. “Not a single country can say that it can keep safe and intact from global warming. So the only way out is cooperation — global cooperation.”
Still, he repeated China’s longstanding opposition to placing an absolute limit on its own emissions of greenhouse gases. Limiting China’s development would hamstring efforts to raise its living standards closer to the level of the developed world, which Mr. Yu noted is largely responsible for climate change problems.
Mr. Yu devoted much of his briefing to calls for the world’s rich nations to take concrete steps toward reducing their pollutants instead of issuing what he suggested were empty pledges. China has proposed that the developed world commit to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020.
“The developed countries, in realizing their industrialization, have discharged a large amount of greenhouse gases in the course of one or two centuries,” he said. “The cumulative emissions by the developed countries have caused global warming. Who should take the historical responsibilities?”Mr. Yu also said that talks with the Obama administration on climate change issues had been “quite fruitful” and that China saw great potential for further progress in bilateral negotiations.