China has 'open mind' about cause of climate change

China's most senior climate change official surprised a summit in India when he questioned whether global warming is caused by carbon gas emissions and said Beijing is keeping an "open mind".

By Dean Nelson in New Delhi
Published: 11:00PM GMT 24 Jan 2010

Xie Zhenhua was speaking at a summit between the developing world's most powerful countries, India, Brazil, South Africa and China, which is now the largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the gas believed to be responsible for climate change.
The four countries have joined forces to intensify pressure on the United States and Europe to fulfil promises to cut their emissions and give more than $10 billion (£6.2 billion) to those countries worst affected by climate change by the end of this year.
Environment ministers from the four countries voiced their frustration at the US for failing to lead the way with carbon emission reductions despite being responsible for much of the emissions most scientists believe to be the cause of global warming.
But Mr Xie, China's vice-chairman of national development and reforms commission, later said although mainstream scientific opinion blames emissions from industrial development for climate change, China is not convinced.

"There are disputes in the scientific community. We have to have an open attitude to the scientific research. There's an alternative view that climate change is caused by cyclical trends in nature itself. We have to keep an open attitude," he said.
"It is already a solid fact that climate is warming. The major reasons for this climate change is the unconstrained emissions produced by the developed countries in the process of industrialisation. That's the mainstream view [but] there are other views. Our attitude is an open attitude".
India and South Africa's environment ministers appeared to be baffled by his comments.The Indian delegrate, Jairam Ramesh, said he did not believe his Chinese counterpart had meant what he said, while South Africa's minister Buyelwa Sonjica said she could not "second guess" what Mr Xie had meant by his comments.
They appeared to undermine the new group's main argument, that Western developed countries should pay for poor countries to switch to low carbon models because its emissions had caused climate change.
Earlier, the ministers had pledged to give Western countries a "slap in the face" by announcing their plans to cut emissions by the end of this month and by offering their own aid to the poorer countries suffering most from climate change.