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China, Switzerland, France Strengthen Climate Change Positions

climatechangeAhead of the Copenhagen meeting in December that will establish a new international treaty on global warming, China has announced it will work on controlling its greenhouse gas emissions, although not making any definitive commitments to cut emissions. At the same time, Switzerland commits to cut its emissions by 20 percent, and France expects a carbon tax in the near future.

Chinese legislators said they will strive to control greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen energy saving and emissions reduction, and draft new laws to fight climate change, while warning wealthy nations not to use climate change to implement any form of trade protection, reports Reuters.

Jonathan Pershing, chief climate negotiator for the U.S., recently said that manufacturers in developing countries should not worry about rich nations imposing carbon-related tariffs on goods.

Beijing also reiterates that it will not accept mandatory emissions caps in any new agreement, according to Reuters. The current Kyoto Protocol does not include caps for developing countries.

In light of the UN top climate official’s recent statement that if wealthy nations didn’t make strong commitments to curb their 2020 CO2 emissions the global climate treaty would be in jeopardy, carbon reduction commitments are trickling in one by one.

Most recently, the Swiss government announced it will cut its carbon emissions by at least 20 percent from its 1990 levels by 2020, although green groups said the target is too small, and it falls short of at least a 30 percent reduction sought by a citizens’ initiative, according to AFP.

Since the reduction levels must be agreed upon by industrialized countries, the Swiss government said it would be prepared to raise its target to 30 percent, reports AFP.

South Korea and Mexico have also recently announced their emission reduction goals ahead of the Copenhagen talks.

The UN is urging wealthy nations to curb their own emissions by 25-40 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels and to help developing nations cope with the impacts of climate change, according to AFP.

France’s proposed carbon tax is expected to be included in the 2010 budget but will probably be set below the recommended 32 euros ($46) per metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted in 2010, reports Reuters.

The carbon tax would add between 7 and 8 cents to the cost of a liter of gas, and has been criticized by heavy fuel users such as farmers and fishermen, according to Reuters. Details are expected to be hammered out when parliament resumes.

Meanwhile, looming elections in Japan are expected to have implications for the island nation’s climate change policies, reports the New York Times. If the Democratic Party of Japan wins, as expected, it has pledged to cut the nation’s GHG emissions by a quarter by 2020, compared to 2005 levels.

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