By Matt McGrath
China’s senior climate negotiator says his scientists are divided over when their carbon emissions will peak.
Reports earlier this week suggested that China would introduce an overall emissions cap by 2020.
Speaking on the fringes of UN climate talks in Bonn, Xie Zhenhua said that his country was determined to peak “as soon as possible”.
But he said the experts weren’t united and it wasn’t possible to give a firm date at this point.
President Obama’s announcement of a plan to cut carbon from power stations by 2030 was widely praised around the world.
Speaking the next day, the chairman of China’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change indicated that the country would limit its emissions for the first time.
He Jiankun said that the next five year plan, that would run from 2016, would see an emissions cap and that overall carbon output would peak sometime after 2030.
But Mr He clarified his statements to say that he didn’t have the authority to speak on behalf of the government.
The issue of when China’s emissions will reach their peak and start to decline is of crucial importance to negotiators here.
Reining in the world’s biggest and fastest growing source of CO2, is critical if global temperature increases are to be kept under 2C, the threshold for dangerous impacts according to scientists.
Despite its dizzying speed of development, China has been slow to take on carbon reduction targets.
In 2009, the country’s leaders committed China to cutting emissions of carbon relative to economic development. They would reduce the amount of carbon used for growth by 40-45% in 2020, compared to 2005.
To get there, the country has embarked on a rapid expansion of renewable energy and replanting forests, a point made by China’s lead negotiator at these talks.
“I am telling you that China is doing its utmost to reduce its carbon intensity but you have to realise that China is in the process of realising modernisation and the total amount of CO2 emissions will be increasing in the future,” Mr Xie said, speaking through an interpreter.
He added that China was doing a great deal with renewables, leading the world in installed capacity of wind, solar and bioenergy.
They have already overtaken their targets on planting new forests.