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China Says G8 Climate Change Agreement Not Specific Enough

China says the agreement reached by the G8 countries to slow climate change is positive, but officials say the agreement was not specific enough in spelling out the responsibilities of individual countries. Although China is now one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases, Beijing says the more developed countries bear the biggest responsibility for repairing damage to the climate. Daniel Schearf reports from the Chinese capital.

China's Minister for Science and Technology, Wan Gang, told reporters Thursday the G8 agreement was right to bring attention to the seriousness of climate change, but did not spell out which actions should be taken by specific countries.

"Who is to bear what responsibility? How much responsibility will developed countries assume? From now on this needs to be continuously specified," said Wan.

The Group of Eight industrialized nations last week agreed to try to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But the agreement was vague, and did not set specific reduction targets for individual countries.

China is expected to overtake the United States as early as this year as the largest emitter of carbon dioxide, one of the major greenhouse gases that are thought to be affecting the climate. While the economy grows by leaps and bounds, Beijing has struggled and failed to reduce energy consumption and pollution.

The government has said it will not take steps that hinder economic expansion. It argues that since developed countries are responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions, they should bear the most responsibility for repairing the damage.

But Wan says China will still do its part to fight global warming. He says developing and developed nations need to negotiate on reducing emissions.

The government says it has already allocated about $600 million to a five-year budget on climate change research and technology, and Wan says it will increase this spending by several times. But he did not specify what total spending would be and he made no predictions on emission reductions.

Science And Technology Vice Minister Liu Yanhua says China does not want to make any promises it cannot keep.

"As a developing and responsible country China will do its best," said Liu. "We will not be like some western countries that make a lot of promises, but do not realize them."

Wan says China needs developed nations to help, by speeding up the transfer of cheaper, high-technology products that can help produce cleaner energy.

But China's habit of ignoring patents and copyrights has made many countries wary of handing over their technologies.

Wan acknowledged that the problem with intellectual property rights had to be discussed, but indicated China's biggest concern is the cost.