Two wire services emerged from China’s first official press conference on the recently released UN report on climate change with opposite views on how Beijing plans to grapple with carbon emissions from its belching coal plants.
Under the headline “China is set on curbing fossil fuels,” Reuters quotes Qin Dahe, chief of the China Meteorological Administration and a co-chairman of the United Nations panel that produced the climate change report, as saying China recognizes the environmental dangers of its coal-fired economy and plans to take the appropriate measures:
Asked what China planned to do, Qin stressed Beijing’s commitment to improving energy efficiency by 20 percent in coming years, and to shifting the country from overwhelming dependence on coal, one of the main fuel sources of greenhouse gases.
“This is an ambitious and extremely difficult objective,” he said. “The government is very urgent about this demand.”
Meanwhile AFP, in a piece entitled “China to keep relying on coal” (via France 24), reports that China has no plans to significantly change its energy mix. Their source? The same Qin Dahe:
In the first official Chinese response to a stark UN report issued last week on climate change, Qin Dahe said China lacked the technology and financial resources for a wholesale conversion to cleaner energy sources.
“To replace 70 percent of China’s energy consumption really takes a lot of money,” Qin, who was one of the main authors of the report, told a press conference.
So what’s the real story? A clue comes at the end of the Reuters article, where it’s reported Qin dodged questions on whether China would accept mandatory caps on carbon emissions. Makes one wonder if some strange geological force isn’t projecting a cross-Pacific echo from the White House to Beijing .