(Jun 20, 2007)

China bypasses US as world's top carbon dioxide polluter

By Audra Ang
From AP

The International Energy Agency's Birol said the key message from the emission figures is not who is No. 1, but the need to slow growth in CO2 emissions. ''The rest of the world with the help of China needs to find ways for China to reduce CO2 emissions,'' Birol said.

China has come under growing international pressure to take more forceful measures to curb releases of greenhouse gases.

This month, China unveiled its first national program to combat global warming with promises to rein in greenhouse gas production. While the program offered few new concrete targets for greenhouse gas emissions, it outlined steps the country would take to meet a previously announced goal of improving energy efficiency in 2010 by 20 percent over 2005's level.

Beijing also indicated an unwillingness to enforce mandatory emissions caps.

Ma Kai, the minister heading the National Development and Reform Commission, said economic development is a priority for China, but efforts would be made to raise awareness about global warming.

China signed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which caps the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted in industrialized countries. But because China is considered a developing country it is exempt from emission reductions _ a situation often cited by U.S. President George W. Bush's administration and Australia for not accepting the treaty.

Yang Ailun of Greenpeace China called on the country to take more steps to protect the environment. ''Due to the urgency of climate change, China has the responsibility to take immediate actions to reform its energy structure and curb its CO2 emissions,'' Yang said in a statement.

She noted that Western consumers use products made in China.

''All the West has done is export a great slice of its carbon footprint to China and make China the world's factory,'' she said. ''This trend has kept the price of projects in the West down, but led to a climate disaster in the long term.''


Associated Press writer Arthur Max in Amsterdam and Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.

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