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China Ratifies Kyoto Accord at Johannesburg Summit - 2002-09-03

China has approved the Kyoto protocol to reduce the release of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. But as a developing country, China is not bound by many of the Kyoto targets.

Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji gave his formal backing for the Kyoto protocol before delegates at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg Tuesday.

Mr. Zhu says China's ratification of the Kyoto protocol demonstrates its eagerness to cooperate with other countries to improve the environment. He says China will work hard to bring about sustainable development, by backing up its commitments with action.

But Mr. Zhu stresses that China is a low-income, developing country with a large population. He says the country's greatest priorities are the eradication of poverty and economic development.

China is one of the world's biggest polluters, and coal is a major source of energy for its 1.3 billion people. But the Kyoto accord excuses developing countries like China from any goals for cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, caused by burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

Kyoto goals apply only to developed nations, which must agree to cut carbon dioxide emissions to around five percent below 1990 levels by 2012. China signed the Kyoto pact in 1998, and had been expected to ratify it at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg.