OSLO (Reuters) - China, the top greenhouse gas emitter, urged rich nations on Thursday to do more to lead the fight against climate change and help avert heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels.
In a submission to the United Nations before a March 10-14 meeting of governments in Germany, Beijing called on developed countries to make deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and increase aid to help the poor tackle global warming.
They should "take the lead", it said in a document that highlighted its deep differences with the United States despite promises of greater cooperation between the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.
Beijing said developing nations were doing most to curb rising world greenhouse gas emissions to limit warming. "Their contribution to global mitigation efforts is far greater than that by developed countries," it said.
Jennifer Morgan, a climate expert at the World Resources Institute think-tank, said the Chinese submission showed that few nations were yet willing to compromise in talks meant to end with a global U.N. deal at a summit in Paris in late 2015.
"In negotiations in the past, countries haven't shown flexibility until the end," she said, referring to a 2009 summit in Copenhagen that failed to agree a global deal.
"One lesson is that you can't leave everything until the last moment," she said. Wild weather ranging from floods in Britain to record heat in Australia has helped push climate change higher up the political agenda of some world leaders.
Senior government negotiators will meet next week in Bonn to try to sketch out elements of a U.N. deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 pact that obliges only the developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The United States and other developed nations say that emerging economies must also adopt clear carbon targets.
RICH AND POOR
China said, however, the new deal should retain the distinction between rich and poor. Developing nations say they need to burn more fossil fuels to help end poverty and catch up with nations that have burned huge amounts since the Industrial Revolution.
Beijing also reiterated its past insistence that rich nations cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. That is far deeper than the European Union's goal of at least 20 percent and a U.S. target of 4 percent.
Beijing said the rich should provide $40 billion this year in aid to help developing nations tackle global warming and increase it by $10 billion a year to $100 billion by 2020.
Separately, the European Union said all countries should set out far clearer promises to rein in emissions beyond 2020, when a new deal is meant to enter into force.
China's current goal, for instance, is to reduce the amount of carbon emitted per unit of economic output by 2020, a measure that allows emissions to rise with fast economic growth. The European Union said such targets could not be understood unless they included projected rates of GDP.
(Reporting by Alister Doyle; editing by Andrew Roche)