World leaders tried to inject momentum into climate change talks on Tuesday but new proposals by China and a rallying cry from US President Barack Obama did little to break a United Nations deadlock.
Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, leaders of the world's top greenhouse gas polluters, hoped to boost efforts to forge a new global warming treaty two and a half months before a December deadline.
Speaking at a special UN climate change summit, Hu laid out a new plan to tackle China's emissions, tying them to economic growth. He did not include specific figures, however. A Chinese official said those would be ready soon.
Obama outlined his administration's work on climate since he took office in January and said the United States was committed to act.
But he offered no new proposals, to the chagrin of environmentalists, and did not urge quick US Senate passage of a climate bill, which many observers see as crucial to reaching an international deal.
The one-day summit drew nearly 100 heads of state and government before official talks among 190 nations in Copenhagen in December to forge a replacement to the Kyoto Protocol, which runs out at the end of 2012.
Talks leading to the December 7-18 negotiations in Denmark have put developed and developing countries at odds over how to distribute emissions curbs. Poorer nations are pressing richer ones to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars a year to help them cope with rising temperatures.
Hu said China's new plan included vigorously developing renewable and nuclear energy and promised emissions would grow slower than economic growth in the future.
“We will endeavor to cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by a notable margin by 2020 from the 2005 level,” Hu said.
The pledge, which marked the first time China has said it will accept measurable curbs on its emissions, was seen as an attempt to counter critics, especially in Washington, who say Beijing is doing too little.
Obama said the United States had done more over the eight months of his presidency to reduce carbon pollution than at any time in history and urged all nations to act together.
“Our generation's response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it - boldly, swiftly and together - we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe,” Obama said. “The time we have to reverse this tide is running out.” (Reuters)