Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rudd will not do anything: China

  • John Garnaut and Tom Arup
  • The Age, May 28, 2009

A LEADING Chinese strategist on climate change has belittled the latest carbon-reduction proposals by the Rudd Government and the Obama Administration.

Professor Pan Jiahua, one of China's top advisers on climate change diplomacy and economics, dismissed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's revised proposal to cut emissions by up to 25 per cent if a global agreement is forged.

"It makes no difference because it comes with so many conditions. Those conditions won't be met and he'll end up saying he won't do anything at all," said Professor Pan.

"Compare this with China, which says no conditions at all, just do it."

British climate expert Nicholas Stern said last night Australia would not be taken seriously at December's Copenhagen conference unless it stuck to 25 per cent or thereabouts.

Professor Pan's criticism came as parliamentary secretary for climate change Greg Combet put the heat on business leaders over the Government's plans for a carbon trading scheme.

He warned the Minerals Council of Australia conference that industry could get less compensation under the scheme if the legislation was blocked. The legislation is set to be voted down next month in the Senate.

"If we have to go back to the drawing board, everyone involved will have to run the gauntlet of the political process, something we know cannot guarantee certainty," Mr Combet told resources executives.

"This is something that all industries receiving assistance should think very carefully about when they consider their approach to proposals to delay the scheme. Billions of dollars worth of assistance are involved."

Mr Combet also seemed to rule out extra assistance to the coal industry.

In China, Professor Pan was as dismissive of US proposals as he was of the Rudd plan.

"China is not at all impressed with Obama," Professor Pan said. "Obama's statements are certainly insufficient and his demands for developing countries are unrealistic."

Last week China laid out its initial ambit claim for Copenhagen, calling for rich countries to slash greenhouse emissions by 40 per cent while also giving 1 per cent of GDP to help poorer nations fight climate change.

President Barack Obama is pushing legislation that would cut carbon emissions by 17 per cent in 2020 from 2005 levels.

The US has sent a caravan of top officials to Beijing to secure a deal with China.

China has never committed to a greenhouse gas emissions target but has initiated policies to cut energy consumption and pollution and indirectly curb emissions.

China is the world's biggest greenhouse emitter, but its emissions per person are a small fraction of Australia's.

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