- The Washington Times - Friday, May 29, 2009

BEIJING | House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she remains hopeful of a deal with China on climate-change policies before a conference in December in Copenhagen, despite considerable pessimism among other members of her congressional delegation.

The group met with top Chinese officials and government advisers this week seeking a consensus on positions to take to the Copenhagen conference, which will try to forge a new international agreement on targets and steps to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

The participation of major developing countries such as China and India is seen as critical to reaching a deal that will address climate-change concerns and win political support in the United States and other Western countries.

But no consensus was reached during the delegation’s visit. And from the participants’ remarks, the outlook for one appeared cloudy at best.

Acknowledging the differing views, Mrs. Pelosi said, “I am hopeful, because this is very urgent.”

The California Democrat has promised to press for U.S. climate legislation this year, and a bill requiring factories, refineries and power plants to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and six other greenhouse gases by roughly 80 percent by midcentury was approved by a House committee last week.

While welcoming calls for cooperation, Chinese officials argue that global warming is largely the responsibility of rich nations which should provide funds and technologies to developing countries to cut future pollution levels.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican and a congressional representative to the 1997 Kyoto conference on climate change, said China appeared to be moving backward in addressing carbon-dioxide reduction.

“I am very discouraged at the conversations that we have had with all of our Chinese counterparts during this visit,” Mr. Sensenbrenner said.

“The message that I received was that China was going to do it their way, regardless of what the rest of the world negotiates in Copenhagen,” he said.

Mr. Sensenbrenner said a Chinese proposal to reduce its emissions by an amount tied to its overall gross domestic product from 2005 to 2010 would still result in a net increase, given the country’s high rate of economic growth.

Speaking earlier at Beijing’s elite Tsinghua University, Mrs. Pelosi said combating global warming represented a challenge that both governments must undertake.

“We are all in this together,” she told about 200 students and faculty who applauded enthusiastically throughout the 45-minute session. “The impact of climate change is a tremendous risk to the security and well-being of our countries.”

Mrs. Pelosi told reporters that concerns over human rights and Tibet were also raised in all the group’s meetings, including ones Wednesday with President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

The speaker’s visit is part of a flurry of contacts between Washington and Beijing that highlight their wide-ranging cooperation on issues including North Korea’s nuclear program and combating the global economic slump. Next week, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner travels to Beijing.

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