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China must step up on climate change as ‘newly developed’ nation

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Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison said China's new status as a developed economy.

Global trade rules are “no longer fit for purpose” and must be changed to accommodate China’s new status as a developed economy, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a major foreign policy speech in the United States.

Scott Morrison has challenged China to do more heavy lifting on climate change, saying Australia welcomes its economic growth, but that prosperity and power also come with responsibility.

The Australian prime minister used the keynote speech of his US visit, at the Chicago Institute for Global Affairs on Monday, to praise China’s “economic maturity”. Morrison characterized China as a “newly developed” rather than a developing economy and argued that status conferred developed-world obligations on the Chinese leadership.

With the UN climate action summit underway in New York, Morrison is arguing that China needs to contribute more to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – to make a developed economy contribution rather than be given more leniency as a developing economy – a stance Beijing rejects.

Ahead of the New York summit, China flatly rejected Morrison’s argument that it needed to do more to reduce emissions, pointing to the longstanding principle in global climate negotiations of “common but differentiated responsibilities”.

In a statement from the ministry of ecology and environment, China said climate action needed to be proportionate with “respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances”.

Referring to China as a newly developed economy marks a change from Beijing’s self-declared status as a developing economy, which affords it concessions such as longer times to implement agreed commitments, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Morrison said Australia and the United States had different relationships with China, given Australia had a trade surplus with China while the United States had a trade deficit.

“The engagement with China has been enormously beneficial to our country,” he said. “We want to see that continue.”

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