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China unveiled its first national climate change program today (4 June) and promised to further control greenhouse gas emissions.

But it rejected mandatory caps on emissions, saying they are unfair for developing countries.

The plan specifies a wide range of measures China will take to tackle and adapt to the effects of climate change by 2010.

The measures include restructuring the energy industry, promoting clean technologies ― including nuclear power generation and clean coal technologies ― improving energy efficiency and seeking more international cooperation.

The program highlights three major targets to achieve by 2010 ― reducing energy consumption by 20 per cent, increasing renewable energy to ten per cent of the primary energy supply and increasing reforestation by 20 per cent.

Li Liyan, deputy director of the Office of National Coordination Committee on Climate Change, told SciDev.Net the program is important to "convey a consensus" among China's top leaders on mitigating climate change.

Specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions were absent from the plan.

Ma Kai, minister of the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission, said in a press conference that it is "too early, too abrupt and too blunt" for the international community to impose emissions caps on China, whose historic and per capita emissions are much lower than developed countries.

He said the most important task for China is to "develop the economy and eradicate poverty" and the international society should respect its "development right".

He insisted that absence of caps "does not mean China would not fulfil relevant responsibilities".

The program comes two days ahead of Chinese president Hu Jintao's presence at G8+5 meeting in Germany ― including Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

Climate change will be high on the agenda at the meeting.

Ma disputed the US president George Bush's recently publicised initiative of forming a separate international climate change framework, saying the initiative should complement international treaties ― namely the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol ― instead of replacing them.

Brazil's president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, rejected Bush's proposal outright. He told the Guardian newspaper that countries should work together under the auspices of the UN, "and not under US leadership".