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US-China climate change deal in the works: report


London : A US-China deal on climate change could be reached in autumn this year after secret back-channel meetings in the closing months of the Bush administration, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

The Guardian said a high-powered group of senior Republicans and Democrats, including the current White House adviser John Holdren, led two missions to China for climate talks last year.

Although a memorandum of understanding was not signed, the paper said a draft agreement was produced in March, and could be the basis for an accord as early as this autumn.

“My sense is that we are now working towards something in the fall,” said Bill Chandler, director of the energy and climate programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the driving force behind the talks.

“It will be serious. It will be substantive, and it will happen,” he told the paper.

The news comes ahead of UN talks in Bonn next month in the leadup to a summit of world leaders in Copenhagen this December aimed at agreeing a successor regime to the Kyoto Protocol.

China, thought to be the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, and India are the two developing countries that have come under increasing international focus at climate change talks.

Although small in per capita terms, their overall volumes of greenhouse gas emissions are large enough to significantly contribute to pace of climate change.

So far both India and China have resisted pressures, arguing rich developed countries that are responsible for causing climate change through their industrial activity must be the first to cut emissions.

The Guardian said a “three-point memo”, drawn up by the Americans and agreed by the Chinese, proposed:

– Using existing technologies to produce a 20 percent cut in emissions by 2010;

– Cooperating on new technology including carbon capture and storage and fuel efficiency for cars; and

– Signing a US-China global climate change deal in Copenhagen.

However, the newspaper did not say if the proposed 20 percent cut was from existing levels of emissions.

Members of the ruling Democratic party in the US House of Representatives last week were reported to have reached an agreement to reduce greenhouse gases by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 – a target that falls well below global expectations.