Bloomberg News

China Says Kyoto Dispute Puts UN Global Warming Talks in Peril

November 29, 2011

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- China said the debate on whether to extend the Kyoto Protocol’s limits on greenhouse gases risks destroying the international response to global warming, raising the risk this year’s talks in South Africa will fail.

Su Wei, the lead negotiator from Beijing, said it’s essential for industrial nations to sign up to another round of emissions reductions under the pact, whose limits expire next year. Japan, Canada and Russia already have rejected extending the treaty. The European Union says it will only take on new commitments if all nations fix a date for adopting a new treaty.

“If we cannot get a decision for the future of the second commitment period, the whole international system on climate change will be placed in peril,” Su said today in an interview at the meeting in Durban today. “If the Kyoto Protocol is devoid of any further commitment period, the Kyoto Protocol itself will be dead.”

While Su said China is open to negotiating with the EU, his comments indicate little common ground between China and industrial nations on how to advance the fight against global warming.

China and India, which have become two of the three biggest polluters since Kyoto was agreed in 1997, have no requirement to cut fossil fuel emissions under that pact. The U.S. and EU say that such a system can’t be effective in fighting climate change in a world that’s changed since that treaty was negotiated.

The future of Kyoto is the biggest barrier to an agreement being reached Durban. Su said it’s too early to say whether China will be willing to accept legally-binding commitments after 2020, which would be required under the EU’s proposal. The 27-nation bloc wants a deal by 2015 for all nations that would be implemented by 2020 at the latest.

“We think the EU is just shifting the goal posts to another place,” Su said. “We are willing to consider accommodating the concerns of the EU so as to assure a real legally binding second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. Post-2020 is still far away and we cannot spread ourselves too thinly.”

--Editors: Reed Landberg, Alessandro Vitelli

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at

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