- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Chinese climate official said Monday that his fast-developing nation should not bear the full cost of climate change policy.

Li Gao, the lead climate negotiator for China, said countries that import Chinese-manufactured goods, should bear the carbon price.

“As one of the developing countries, we are at the low end of the production line for the global economy. We produce products and these products are consumed by other countries. … This share of emissions should be taken by the consumers, but not the producers,” said Mr. Li, director of the China’s Department of Climate Change.

The rift between China and the U.S. over who should pay for the cost of reducing greenhouse gasses appears to continue, although the new Obama administration has done an about-face on the Bush administration’s opposition to a cap and trade regime.

Spokesmen for the State Department and the Chinese Embassy did not immediately return requests for comment Monday.

President Obama has proposed establishing a cap and trade program by 2012, to raise $646 billion for tax cuts and renewable energy projects. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have said they’d like to pass a plan before global climate leaders meet this winter in Copenhagen to draft the climate treaty which would replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Neither the United States nor China signed onto the Kyoto Protocol, which required signatories to reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions. The Kyoto treaty expires in 2012.

Opponents of a national cap and trade program - in which carbon-dioxide emissions are capped and companies buy allowances to emit above that cap - say that American goals mean little if other developing countries, including China and India, don’t adhere to the same limits.

Climate negotiators have been making the rounds in Washington meeting with members of Congress and the Obama White House, including U.S. special envoy Todd Stern.

Mr. Li spoke on a panel with envoys from Mexico, Japan and the European Union, although one panel member played down the Chinese diplomat’s remarks.

“I didn’t hear [Mr. Li’s] comments as an explicit demand,” said Elliot Diringer, vice president for international strategies at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, which hosted the climate envoys Monday.

“I heard this more as a factor to be considered in the course of the negotiations,” Mr. Diringer said.

Rep. John B. Larson, Connecticut Democrat, led a briefing for members of the Democratic House Caucus about climate reduction proposals. House and Senate leaders have said they prefer to pass a cap and trade plan, although Mr. Larson and other lawmakers have said they would rather see a carbon tax.

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