United Nations — China’s ambition to grow quickly but cleanly soon may vault it to “front-runner” status — far ahead of the United States — in taking on global warming, the U.N. climate chief said Monday.
China could steal the show by unveiling new plans today at a U.N. climate summit of 100 world leaders. India has also signaled that it wants to be an “active player” on climate change.
“China and India have announced very ambitious national climate change plans. In the case of China, so ambitious that it could well become the front-runner in the fight to address climate change,” U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer told The Associated Press Monday. “The big question mark is the U.S.”
The development would mark a dramatic turnabout. The United States, under former President George W. Bush’s administration, long cited inaction by China and India as the reason for rejecting mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases.
Today’s meeting is intended to rally momentum for crafting a new global climate pact at Copenhagen, Denmark, in December. Bush rejected the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for cutting global emissions of warming gases based on its impact on the U.S. economy and exclusion of major developing nations like China and India, both major polluters.
Su Wei, director of China’s climate change department, pledged a “pro-active” approach to make Copenhagen a success.
“China takes the threat of climate change very seriously and fully recognizes the urgency to take actions,” he said, flanked by top climate negotiators from the U.S., India and Denmark at a news conference on Monday. “China will continue to play certainly an active and constructive role.”
Jairam Ramesh, India’s environment minister, said his nation was also committed to reaching a global climate accord.
“India wants a deal at Copenhagen. And India is prepared to be an active player in working towards an agreement ... It is in our interests ... because we are very climate-vulnerable,” Ramesh said.
Todd Stern, the top U.S. climate envoy, said the Obama administration also is moving “full speed ahead” toward helping craft a deal.
But with Congress moving slowly on a measure to curb emissions, the United States could soon find itself with little influence when 120 countries convene in Copenhagen.
China and the U.S. together account for about 40 percent of all the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other industrial warming gases.