China Says Industrialized Nations Should Take Responsibility for Global Warming

China has responded to a United Nations report on climate change by saying developed countries are responsible for creating global warming and should take the lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Chinese officials defend China's own gas emissions, the second highest in the world, and say the country lacks resources to cut emissions. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu Tuesday said China was willing to work towards reducing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which a U.N. panel said last week was the most likely cause of climate change.

But Jiang said China, with the world's largest population, has low per capita emissions and that developed countries must take responsibility for the damage they create.

"It must be pointed out that climate change has been caused by the long-term historic emissions of developed countries and their high per capita emissions," Jiang said.

Jiang said developing countries should implement the Kyoto
Protocol to place limits on greenhouse gas emissions. She declined to say whether Beijing would be willing to place caps on its own emissions.

China is dependent on heavily polluting coal for about 70 percent of its energy needs.

The chief of China's meteorological administration, Qin Dahe, said Tuesday Beijing was working to reduce the country's reliance on coal. But he said it would take time, money and foreign technology to switch to cleaner forms of energy such as water, wind, and solar power.

"As a developing country with a rapidly growing economy and a big population, to thoroughly transform the energy structure to use clean energy would need a lot of money," Qin said.

China is the second largest producer of greenhouse gases after the United States. However, at its current rate of growth, estimates suggest China could overtake the U.S. in gas emissions as soon as 2010.

The greenhouse gas emissions of China and the rest of the world were a focus of last week's United Nations report that blamed human activities for global warming. The report warned that the Earth's average surface temperatures could rise along with a higher frequency of typhoons, droughts and other natural disasters.

The U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, which binds 35 industrial nations to cut emissions by 2012, excludes developing nations, such as China and India, from specific targets.