China says US envoy 'irresponsible' on climate aid

China on Friday attacked a top US envoy as either “extremely irresponsible” or lacking in common sense, for saying at a global summit to tackle warming that no US climate aid would go to China.

Vice-Foreign Minister He Yafei also said that developed countries would need to offer more than short-term financing at December 7 to 18 talks in Copenhagen, if they wanted poorer nations to sign up for a long-term emissions-cutting goal.

Todd Stern, President Barack Obama’s special envoy for climate change said earlier this week, that he could not “envision” public funds going to China.

China’s He said that was a dangerous betrayal of a globally agreed principle that rich nations had a responsibility to help poor nations adapt to a warmer world and cut emissions.

“I was shocked, personally, to read the American negotiator’s [comment],” he told a news conference.

“I don’t want to say the gentleman is ignorant, because he is very well educated, but I think he lacked common sense when he made such a comment vis-a-vis funds for China. Either lack of common sense or he is extremely irresponsible.”

He compared the wealthy world to people eating at a fancy restaurant, who are joined for desert by a poor friend, and then demand he pays a share of the whole meal.

“We are not asking for donations. They have a legal responsibility, the US included. Whoever created this problem, they are responsible.”

The rift between rich and poor nations has stalled the December 7 to 18 climate talks in the Danish capital, which aim to agree a new global pact to fight warming. A draft text unveiled on Friday revived flagging hopes that a deal might be within reach.

It said global emissions should at least halve by 2050 compared with 1990 levels, but omitted details on rich nation funds to help poor nations cut their output of greenhouse gasses and adapt to a warmer world.

The draft came the same day the European Union made an offer of €7,3-billion ($10,8-billion) of climate aid over the next three years, but He said both the draft text and the funding would not satisfy developing countries.

“I doubt the sincerity of developed countries in their commitment,” He told a news conference.

“Why are they not talking about a commitment of providing funds through 2050? That will make them credible when they are asking for an emissions reduction by 2050.”

He declined to comment directly on whether China wanted aid, but said the most threatened nations would be first in line for any cash, and added that China planned to stick to its domestic emissions curbing plans with or without foreign funds.

“If I say I renounce the right to use funds from developed countries, its against that very principle I have repeatedly emphasised. It doesn’t mean we are asking for funds ...most vulnerable nations first,” He said.

But He added that China and the US should not be grouped together, as although the overall size of his country’s economy was large, per capita income was still relatively low and about 150-million people were still living below the UN poverty line.

“When people mention US and China together, they tend to forget that these two countries belong to totally different categories. The US is part of the developed countries ... China is part of developing countries. You cannot mix the two.”—Reuters

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