Kate Mackenzie China’s energy targets problem could raise diplomatic stakes

AFP/AFP/GettyChina’s backslide on its energy intensity targets might have come at a bad time, as the country prepares to host climate talks with ministers from 25 countries on Friday.

The New York Times reports that the country’s cabinet held a special meeting to discuss the problems meeting energy targets, and that Premier Wen Jiabao said: “We can never break our pledge, stagger our resolution or weaken our efforts, no matter how difficult it is.”

Meanwhile there are new reports from the Chinese press saying the country will redouble its efforts. From China Daily:

BEIJING – China will take radical measures to increase the use of new energy in the 12th Five Year Plan (2011-15), a move that reinforces the nation’s commitment to improve the energy mix and reduce pollution.

Development of new energies, including nuclear, hydro, wind and solar will be highlighted in the country’s 12th Five Year Plan for the energy industry, said industry sources. The four sectors are also the most developed new energy resources in the country at present.

The report also says China is drafting “a stimulus plan for its new energy sectors”, likely to be announced next year.

In a separate story, China Daily says China will use a three-day climate meeting that begins in Beijing today “as a platform for public diplomacy to show the world its sincerity in reducing carbon emissions”. Ministers from Germany, Mexico and and Denmark will be there, it adds:

Beijing considers the latest event an opportunity to build trust with both industrialized and developing countries on the bumpy road to Cancun. Some Western media and politicians labeled Beijing a “hijacker” of the Copenhagen climate change summit last December, which China said was unreasonable.

It will be interesting to see what that message is and how it is conveyed; the report also quotes a Chinese scholar as saying that the biggest danger ahead is the abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol and that developed countries won’t “take on binding responsibility for carbon cuts”.

That’s not quite how the developed countries see it; they insist they are happy to take on binding cuts, but only if China, India and other emerging countries do so too.

Related links:

Is China making empty threats on energy targets? FT Energy Source