27 March 2009 | Martha McKenzie- Minifie
Countries that source goods from China should be responsible for carbon emissions from the supplier factories, according to its top climate change official.
Li Gao, director of the Department of Climate Change in China, told an international forum on climate change that up to 25 per cent of the country's emissions come from products "we make for the world".
"This share of emissions should be taken by the consumer but not the producers," he said, as the developing country was at the "low end" of the production line for the global economy.
The comments - made on 16 March in Capitol Hill, Washington, US - came ahead of a major UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. The upcoming meeting will see the start of negotiations on a new international treaty on climate change - an agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.
China, as a developing nation, did not accept cuts in greenhouse emissions under Kyoto, and it wants to see significant financial incentives from richer countries before it commits to reductions. Li Gao did not detail how the proposal would work but experts have said putting it into practice would be difficult.
Arthur Runge-Metzger, head of climate change strategy and international negotiations at the European Commission, said if the approach was adopted, other countries would need to have jurisdiction and legislative powers to control emissions outside their borders.
"I think the issue is we take full responsibility and we regulate the emissions that come from our territory."
Meanwhile, Greenpeace China last week called on Chinese President Hu Jintao to attend the Copenhagen conference. Greenpeace climate change specialist Li Yan said as the world's most populous developing nation and - by estimates - its biggest producer of greenhouse gasses, China should take a major role in talks.