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China ‘should act now’ on climate change, says top Beijing official

A senior Chinese climate change advisor has broken ranks to criticise his country’s stance on global warming as its economy develops.

Hu Angang, a public policy professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, has urged China to act on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, even as the government says it should not assume international obligations to curb carbon dioxide and other pollutants stoking global warming.

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Hu said global climate talks culminating in Copenhagen late next year could be a final opportunity for the planet to avoid calamitous damage from more extreme storms, droughts and floods.

“I think the Copenhagen summit is a last chance not only for China but also for the world,” he said. “Don’t think that if China does not participate and assume obligations then it can avoid disaster.”

China should act even if rich nations drag their feet, because its geography leaves it especially vulnerable to drought, rising seas and other ravages of a changing climate, he added.

Hu, 55, has long helped shape Chinese development policy, submitting advice to top leaders.

But his advocacy of steep, mandatory cuts to its emissions by as soon as 2010 puts him at odds with his government’s insistence that poorer countries should not take on such caps any time soon.

 

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