UK official says 'negative forces' delaying US climate plan
A British official said Thursday that "negative forces" in the United States are holding up a climate change policy, while praising China's efforts in adopting a low-carbon economy.
John Ashton, special representative for climate change at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said a tug-of-war between "positive forces" and "some very negative forces" was delaying a US plan on curbing the carbon emissions blamed for global warming.
"There are plenty of positive forces (in the US), but there are some very negative forces too," he told a climate change conference in Hong Kong, without elaborating.
"That will make it very difficult to move forward."
Ashton praised a California referendum that rejected calls to freeze the state's own ambitious plan to curb emissions.
"I take a lot of encouragement from that," he said.
Leaders of the Republican Party, which took control of the House of Representatives and made gains in the Senate at elections this week, opposed a bill last year to impose the first US restrictions on carbon emissions.
Ashton on Thursday said Beijing's "high ambition" on climate-change policy was "in some ways stronger... than anywhere else".
China has set itself a target to reduce carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product -- or carbon intensity -- in 2020 by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels.
It invested a world-leading 34.6 billion dollars in clean energy initiatives last year -- 30 percent of the global total and nearly double US spending.
China and the US -- the world's biggest polluters -- clashed at a United Nations climate gathering in October, accusing each other of blocking progress ahead of the UN's annual climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, this month.
© 2010 AFP