Xie Overcame Toxic Spill to Become China’s Top Climate Official

Bloomberg profiles Xie Zhenhua, former head of China’s state environmental protection agency and now the country’s chief negotiator in Copenhagen:

Xie, who resigned after an explosion at a PetroChina Co. plant spilled toxic chemicals into the Songhua River, is now in the Danish capital advocating China’s position that richer countries such as the United States should bear most of the burden for cutting carbon emissions blamed for global warming.

China, the biggest CO2 emitter and fastest-growing major economy, has bristled under criticism from envoys including Japan’s Sakihito Ozawa who say any climate deal should contain numerical greenhouse-gas emissions targets for the worst polluters. Xie, 60, says nations like the U.S. created the problem and should agree to large cuts at the climate talks, not developing countries whose growth would be unfairly crimped.

“Given the current situation, no country can reduce carbon-dioxide emissions so much when they are at that stage of development,” Xie told China Central Television on Dec. 7 from Copenhagen. Xie declined a Bloomberg request for an interview.

“It is not reasonable and scientifically sound to make such demands of China,” Xie told reporters, CCTV said.

For more about Xie Zhenhua, see “Xie Zhenhua’s “Unsystematic” Return and Other Curious Moves” from CDT (2007). Read more about the Songhua river spill and about the Copenhagen climate change conference via CDT