HU JINTAO and the G8 SUMMIT 2007










China has unveiled its first national plan for climate change, saying it is intent on tackling the problem but not at the expense of economic development.


The 62-page report reiterated China's aim to reduce energy use by a fifth before 2010 and increase the amount of renewable energy it produces. But it also repeated Beijing's view that responsibility for climate change rests with rich westernised countries.



Hu Jintao chinese president G8 summit meeting 2007


Hu Jintao - Chinese President



The report comes ahead of a G8 meeting that will focus on global warming.

Germany, which is hosting the meeting of industrialised nations, is calling for a new UN protocol on climate change to replace the Kyoto pact when it expires in 2012.

China's role in the debate is crucial, as many analysts believe it could overtake the US this year as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases.





China's new national plan on climate change offered few new targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but outlined how it intended to meet the goals it has already set, analysts say.  This includes the use of more wind, nuclear and hydro power as well as making coal-fired plants more efficient, the document outlined.


But it also stressed that the country's first priority remained "sustainable development and poverty eradication". "China is a developing country. Although we do not have the obligation to cut emissions, it does not mean we do not want to shoulder our share of responsibilities," Ma Kai, chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, said. "We must reconcile the need for development with the need for environmental protection," he said, adding that China wanted to "blaze a new path to industrialisation".


He said rich countries were responsible for most of the greenhouse gases produced over the past century, and had an "unshirkable responsibility" to do more to tackle the problem.

"The international community should respect the developing countries' right to develop," he added.


The plan is a strong declaration of intentions, but so far China has missed almost every environmental target it has set itself, the BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Shanghai says.



Political debate


Climate change is expected to be fiercely debated when China's President Hu Jintao and other industrialised leaders meet in Germany for the G8 on Wednesday. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged them to agree firm targets for cutting polluting emissions.

In a BBC interview, he said it was now up to the richest countries to show leadership on the issue. "It will be tragic if we don't take any action," he said. "My main message is that to galvanise this political will at the leaders level so that we can take necessary action."

The UN secretary-general has made tackling climate change one of his top priorities, and called for a meeting of world leaders on the subject in September.


He wants the UN to be in the lead when it comes to agreeing what should replace the Kyoto Protocol, the current agreement curbing greenhouse gases, when it expires in 2012.

US President George W Bush - whose country is the only industrialised nation apart from Australia not to ratify the protocol - has proposed uniting a group of big emitters who would set non-binding targets by the end of next year. But some analysts say this has been interpreted as a way of undercutting other initiatives - for example by the G8 or United Nations.





Between 1994 and 2004, China's greenhouse gas emissions grew by 4% a year

China currently depends on coal to meet two-thirds of its energy needs

It hopes to raise its use of renewable energy from 7% to 10% by 2010

China may overtake the US as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases by the end of this year



Leaders of G8 countries aim to:


Boost cooperation over trade and finance

Strengthen the global economy

Promote peace and democracy

Prevent and resolve conflicts




Nelson Kruschandl environmentalist on G8 summit meeting 2007


Nelson Kruschandl - "Well done on famine relief - 

what about global warming?"





The G8's roots lie in the oil crisis and global economic recession of the early 1970s. In 1973, these challenges prompted the US to form the Library Group - an informal gathering of senior financial officials from Europe, Japan and the US.


At the instigation of the French, the 1975 meeting drew in heads of government. The delegates agreed to meet annually. The six nations involved became known as the G6, and later the G7 and G8 after the respective entries of Canada (1976) and Russia (1998).


Initially set up as a forum for economic and trade matters, politics crept onto the G7 agenda in the late 1970s. Issues under consideration at recent summits have included helping the developing world, global security, Middle East peace and Iraq reconstruction.

G8 members can agree on policies and can set objectives, but compliance with these is entirely voluntary. The G8 has clout in other world bodies by virtue of the economic and political muscle of its members.


The workings of the G8 are a far cry from the "fireside chats" of the Library Group in the 1970s. Holed up behind fortress-like security, the delegates are accompanied by an army of officials. Elaborate preparations are made for their meetings, statements and photo-calls.


Nevertheless, G8 leaders strive to keep at least some of their encounters free from bureaucracy and ceremony. On the second day of their summit the leaders gather for an informal retreat, where they can talk without being encumbered by officials or the media.


The European Union is represented at the G8 by the president of the European Commission and by the leader of the country that holds the EU presidency. The EU does not take part in G8 political discussions.



UK prime ministerTony Blair, US president George Bush, France, president Jacques Chirac


Tony Blair, George Bush and Jacques Chirac 2005




  • Founded: 1975, Rambouillet, France

  • Original members: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, US

  • Later members: Canada (joined at 1976 summit, San Juan, Puerto Rico), Russia (joined at 1998 summit, Birmingham, UK)




The presidency of the G8 rotates between the group's member nations on an annual basis.  The country holding the presidency in a given year is also responsible for hosting the annual summit, and for handling the security arrangements.  As the foremost economic and political power in the G8, the US is regarded as the dominant member of the group, although this position is not formally enshrined.





Critics of the G8 have accused the body of representing the interests of an elite group of industrialised nations, to the detriment of the needs of the wider world.  Key countries with fast-growing economies and large populations, including China and India, are not represented. There are no African or Latin American members.  The G8's positive stance on globalisation has provoked a vigorous response from opponents, and riots have sometimes overshadowed summit agendas, most notably in Italy in 2001.


The violence has encouraged a tightening of the security cordon that separates protesters and politicians, reinforcing the G8's closed-door image.  In recent years the G8 has launched drives to counter disease, including HIV-Aids, and has announced development programmes and debt-relief schemes. But aid is often dependent on the respect for democracy and good governance in the recipient countries. Critics say that spending on such initiatives is inadequate.


Basic disagreements sometimes emerge within the G8: Global warming was a sticking point at the 2001 Genoa summit, where US President George W Bush underlined his rejection of the Kyoto treaty on emissions. Rifts among G8 members have also been evident over the US-led war in Iraq.









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The G8 leaders








2001: Italy (Genoa summit)

2002: Canada (Kananaskis summit)

2003: France (Evian summit)

2004: US (Sea Island summit)

2005: UK (Gleneagles summit)

2006: Russia





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