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China's Xi demands developed nations pay for climate action

[PARIS] Chinese President Xi Jinping called Monday for rich nations to honour their commitment to provide US$100 billion a year to developing countries to tackle climate change.

Xi told the UN climate summit in Paris that developed countries should accept "more shared responsibilities" for limiting global warming and helping poor countries adapt to a climate-afflicted world.

"Developed countries should honour their commitment of mobilising US$100 billion each year from 2020 and provide stronger financial support to developing countries afterwards," Xi said, according to an official translation of his remarks.

"It is also important that climate-friendly technologies be transferred to developing countries." Rich nations pledged at a UN summit in Copenhagen in 2009 to muster US$100 billion annually in financial support to poor countries starting in 2020.

The money is meant to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions that drive global warming, as well as to adapt to rising sea levels, droughts and other potentially catastrophic impacts.

However, six years later, poor nations are frustrated that rich countries have yet to fully commit to the fund.

The debate over the money highlights a long-standing feud between rich and poor nations over how to distribute responsibility for tackling climate change.

While China and the United States have pledged to work together to fight global warming, Xi made clear on Monday that poor nations should not have to sacrifice economic growth.

"Addressing climate change should not deny the legitimate needs of developing countries to reduce poverty and improve their people's living standards," Xi said.

"The Paris conference should reject the narrow minded mentality of a zero-sum game and call on all countries - developed countries in particular - to assume more shared responsibilities for win-win outcomes." Rich nations acknowledge a historical responsibility for global warming.

But holding temperature increases below two degrees Celsius - the UN-endorsed goal - will be impossible if emerging giants such as China and India fail to step up their efforts, they argue.