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China Launches Global Warming Initiative

By Joe McDonald (Associated Press) - November 9, 2007

China, one of the world’s leading producers of greenhouse gases, launched a government fund Friday to channel money from the sale of emission-reduction credits into environmental projects.

China has resisted adopting emission reductions under international agreements but says it is committed to curbing climate change.

The new fund is to receive a portion of the money paid Chinese companies under a global system that allows industry in developed countries to offset their pollution by paying companies in developing economies to reduce their emissions.

China is expected to overtake the United States shortly as the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists say are raising global temperatures, with possibly far-reaching environmental effects.

“The establishment of this clean development fund is a very important activity by the Chinese government to address the global problem of climate change,” Finance Minister Xie Xuren said at a ceremony to inaugurate the fund.

“It will support our efforts to encourage energy-saving measures and protect the environment,” he said.

China has approved 885 emission-reduction projects as of the end of October, making it the world’s largest source of pollution credits, said Xie Zhenhua, a vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning body.

If all of the projects are successfully completed, they would bring in $15 billion to Chinese companies, with $3 billion going to the environmental fund, he said.

The fund will give out loans and grants to support conservation projects and public education programs on the environment, said Xie, the finance minister, without giving any details.

The announcement comes before environment ministers from 80 countries will meet on Indonesia’s Bali island to discuss a replacement for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Under that agreement, nations agreed to cut their carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases to below 1990 levels by 2012, but the U.S. and Australia did not sign up, worried about the effect it would have on their economies.

This time the U.S. insists that China needs also to be included in the pact. But China, whose staggering economic growth has helped lift millions out of poverty, is worried too that binding emissions limits could hinder growth.