The top U.N. official on climate change says industrialized countries need to offer more incentives to China and other developing countries to reduce gas emissions. Daniel Schearf reports for VOA from Beijing that China is fast overtaking the United States as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, believed by many scientists to be warming the planet.
The U.N. official in charge of the framework convention on climate change, Yvo de Boer, says wealthy nations need to offer advanced technology and financial incentives to reduce China's gas emissions.
China has sought to reduce its energy consumption and emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases, but has fallen short of its own targets.
China's energy needs have been growing along with its booming economy, and the government needs fast growth to maintain stability.
De Boer said the government is making efforts, but it is trying to perform a delicate balancing act.
"The challenge really is to find a way forward that will allow China to engage further without jeopardizing goals in the areas of economic growth and poverty eradication," he said. "And, there I think the international community will have to put in place technological and financial incentives that would make it possible for developing countries like China to go that extra green mile."
De Boer made the comments in Beijing on the sideline of a forum concerning the role of science and technology in fighting climate change.
China has sought high technology transfers from developed countries, but foreign companies are concerned that the Chinese will copy their innovations.
De Boer said China has benefited the most financially, and received some advanced technology, from the U.N. convention on climate change. But, China has had trouble reigning in millions of small and medium-sized enterprises, and is fast becoming the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide.
De Boer says China is already experiencing the effects of climate change.
"We have seen in China a seven-fold increase in floods since the 1950s, unseasonably warm weather and reduced rainfall leading to drinking water shortages in northwest China, and a dramatic expansion of the Gobi desert, and increases in the frequency of heat waves," he added.
De Boer says scientific projections indicate at the current rate of global temperature increase China's future grain production will drop by 37 percent in the second half of the century.
He says rising water levels from melting glaciers might even completely submerge the coastal city of Shanghai by 2050 unless new action is taken.