China’s efforts to build a low-carbon economy would accelerate if world powers agree to a “practical” global climate change pact later this year, former British prime minister Tony Blair said Thursday.
Blair was speaking ahead of key UN talks in Denmark in December aimed at securing a new global climate change pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
“What we need is getting a solution in Copenhagen that is practical, realistic and objective,” Blair told journalists in Beijing.
“If we get an agreement that actually launches the world on a new path, then I think we will find that progress (in China and elsewhere) in developing the science and technology accelerates.”
Blair — who is working with the non-profit Climate Group to try to push for an agreement in Copenhagen — helped unveil the group’s new report on Thursday entitled “China’s Clean Revolution II”.
He said China, which is competing with the United States for the title of world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases, has made great strides in its efforts to develop clean fuel technology in recent years.
The country has become a world leader in electric vehicle production, with homegrown manufacturers aiming to produce 500,000 such cars by 2011, he said. China is Asia’s largest wind power generator, and ranked fourth in the world.
The world’s most populous nation is on track to meet goals to cut energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent from 2006-2010 and is preparing new targets for 2011-2015, the former British leader said.
Blair welcomed a recent report by a government panel of experts that said China’s carbon emissions could slow by 2020 and begin to fall in or about 2030, all while the country maintains economic growth, if reduction targets are set.
“That is what people want to see, the (emissions) peaking as soon as possible,” Blair said.
“I expect China will come out with its position, America will come out with its position and so on … the agenda for (Copenhagen), I think, is on a completely different level of credibility than previous negotiations.”
As a developing nation with low per-capita emissions, China is not required to set emissions cuts under the UN Framework on Climate Change, and it has so far appeared reluctant to accept any formal caps for the future.