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EU courts China over climate deal
Updated: 2009-07-15 10:02

The European Union (EU) is eager to strengthen dialogue with China in order to thrash out an agreement on climate change ahead of the massive international meeting on the issue set for Copenhagen in December.

Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, is on a week-long visit to Beijing with other EU representatives, including politicians from Spain - the country that will hold the EU presidency during the next term.

Carlgren said his visit is aimed at "laying the right foundation for a successful Copenhagen conference".

The gathering of nations in December will seek to find a climate change deal that will replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.

The EU has already committed to take greenhouse gas emissions down to 20 percent less than the 1990 level by 2020. In Copenhagen, the EU will be looking to improve on that effort by setting a target of a 30 percent reduction, Carlgren said.

But China is calling for more and would like to see the Copenhagen agreement include a commitment to cut emissions by 40 percent for developed countries.

"We really want to bring others with us to make commitments in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions and we need China on board," Carlgren said.

He added that developed countries should be taking the lead on cutting emissions.

Carlgren pointed out that agreements reached at the Major Economies Forum last Wednesday in Italy call for global warming to be limited to 2 C above pre-industrialization levels and the G8 nations set a new goal of cutting their emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

"The last thing we want to see at the moment is no action (because of countries' failure to reach an agreement in Copenhagen) but we really need to engage China in the agreement on a global target," he said.

China has set a goal of cutting energy consumption per unit of GDP by some 20 percent from 2005 to 2010 and is ahead of schedule in achieving the targets because of improved energy efficiency.

"We noticed that China is acting vigorously toward a low-carbon economy, but we would like to see the targets of China improved in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) and even the 13th Five-Year Plan," he said.

Carlgren added that China offers a plethora of opportunities for cooperation.

China has participated in Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects with cooperation from the EU.

The CDM is the carbon trading system that was established under the Kyoto Protocol.

The EU will be taking the "win-win" approach and a new CDM is being set up by both sides to smooth the way to a final agreement, Carlgren said.

The new mechanism is expected to involve emissions reduction across a wider spectrum, less bureaucracy and include additional programs.

The EU and China can also cooperate on a range of clean energy initiatives, including clean coal technology, carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency and renewable energies, Carlgren added.

A EU-China Energy Center is being set up in China to help build technological cooperation between businesses in China and the EU.

Carlgren said the EU-China Summit that will be held in November offers an opportunity for a breakthrough on the way nations share technology to fight climate change.

He added that the EU is not supporting a "carbon tariff" and is opposed to trade protectionism.

Video: Ren Cong, Huan CAO | Story: Zhang Xin | Editor: Huan CAO