China promised Monday to better control emissions of greenhouse gases, unveiling its first national program to combat global warming, but rejected mandatory caps on emissions as unfair to countries still trying to catch up with the developed West.
While the program offered few new concrete targets for reducing emissions of the greenhouse gases that are believed to contribute to global warming, it outlined steps China would take to meet a previously announced government goal of improving overall energy efficiency in 2010 by 20 percent over 2005's level.
"China is a developing country. Although we do not have the obligation to cut emissions, it does not mean we do not want to shoulder our share of responsibilities," said Ma Kai, the minister heading the National Development and Reform Commission, the Cabinet-level economic planning agency.
"We must reconcile the need for development with the need for environmental protection," he told reporters. "In its course of modernization, China will not tread the traditional path of industrialization, featuring high consumption and high emissions. In fact, we want to blaze a new path to industrialization."
Ma, however, stressed that the bulk of responsibility for battling climate change still lay with industrialized countries, which "are in a better position to cap emissions."
He said they also have the obligation to provide financial and technical support to developing nations -- like China -- whose "overriding priority at the moment is still economic development and poverty eradication."
See earlier post.