A top British climate change official said Wednesday there was no point blaming China for rising carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions after a new report suggested that China may have already become the world's biggest polluter.
In an interview to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), John Ashton of Britain's Foreign Office was quoted as saying: "It is a fact China is now building about two power stations every week". However, he went on to say that it was pointless pillorying China for this, reports news agency WAM.
"We need to convince China that they don't have to make a choice between prosperity and protecting the climate. We need to help them towards a low-carbon future", said Ashton.
"There is also a moral case. Most of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have been put there by developed countries without the constraint of having to worry about the climate. That means we should bear the leading edge of responsibility", Ashton added.
"Much of China's emissions growth", Ashton said, "was being driven by consumers in the West buying Chinese goods." He noted that China's emissions per person were still well below those of rich nations.
Adding to Ashton's comments, Greenpeace UK Director John Sauven said, "It is estimated that the average American still pollutes between five and six times more than the average Chinese person, and the responsibility for China's soaring emissions lies not just in Beijing but also in Washington, Brussels and Tokyo. The West moved its manufacturing base to China knowing it was vastly more polluting than Japan, Europe or the US," Sauven added.
The Greenpeace director went on to criticise the pattern of western investment in China as it impacted on the environment. "No environmental conditions were attached to this move. In fact the only thing manufacturers were interested in was the price of labour."
Pointing to a possible solution to China's spiralling emissions problem, Sauven suggested, "We should export clean energy technology to China to increase low carbon and renewable energy take-up so the products we import have a smaller carbon footprint."
Earlier this month at the biennial Group of Eight (G8) meet in Germany, where climate change and rising carbon dioxide emissions dominated the proceedings, the five 'Outreach partners' from rapidly emerging economies invited to the summit had taken a very similar position on the issue. India and China, along with other developing countries, have long been insisting on developed countries taking a lead in capping emissions, as well as fair and cheap transfer of technology to tackle climate change.