Page last updated at 15:32 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

China warns on emissions control

File photo of a man squatting near a power plant in Beijing, October 2007
Economic growth is sure to remain China's top priority

China has admitted that controlling greenhouse emissions is a "difficult task" and warned that there is little prospect of an early improvement.

In its first policy paper on climate change, Beijing acknowledges for the first time that its greenhouse gas emissions are equal those of the US.

China's reliance on coal to ensure economic growth makes pollution control difficult, the paper says.

It adds that the developed world should do more on the issue.

Tactical change

The paper admits the problems caused by climate change.

"Extreme climate phenomena, such as high temperatures, heavy precipitation and severe droughts, have increased in frequency and intensity," the paper says.

But it says the "coal-dominated energy mix cannot be substantially changed in the near future, thus making the control of greenhouse gas emissions rather difficult".

BBC China editor Shirong Chen says the paper marks a tactical change on the issue for Beijing.

He says that although China has been resisting international pressure over its greenhouse gas emissions, it has now taken the initiative to tell the world that it knows the severity of the problem.

China's top climate change negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, said Beijing would consider limits on its worst polluting industries if rich nations handed over the technology to help clean them up.

China's fast GDP growth in the past 30 years has lifted tens of millions of people out of poverty and economic development is sure to remain its top priority, our editor says.

But Mr Xie added: "There is no other road for China except the road to sustainable development."

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