China backs Kyoto at Australian talks

China's President Hu Jintao has said he believes the UN's Kyoto Protocol should remain the 'core mechanism' for global efforts to address climate change, in an apparent snub to US and Australian ambitions to rewrite international agreements.

Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC), Hu said the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change offered the best chance for reducing emissions and should be upheld.

China’s support for Kyoto is not entirely selfless, as the country benefits from hosting a huge number of carbon reduction schemes established under the Clean Development Mechanism, to earn carbon credits for wealthy industrialised states.

A well-supported Kyoto Protocol was one of four cornerstones for carbon reduction put forward by Hu.

The APEC meeting is usually a platform to discuss trade agreements between member states, but this year the USA and Australia chose to use it as a forum to discuss their proposals for an alternative to Kyoto.

Kyoto is essentially a cap and trade system – with industrialised signatories agreeing to emissions limits and buying in credits from developing countries hosting carbon reduction projects to ensure they meet those targets.

The US/Australian scheme seeks to replace this with a technological solution, with an emphasis on researching clean tech and energy efficiency rather than trading credits.

Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the scheme would also set emissions targets for developing states which are currently exempt from such restrictions under the UN-brokered scheme.

Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia also joined China in rejecting the APEC agreement, agreeing that the UN should be the primary forum for debate on international efforts to tackle climate change.

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie