China, the world's number three economy, is the top greenhouse gas polluter, scientists say, and its emissions of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, are set to keep rising.
The United States' climate change policy envoy, Todd Stern, is the latest in a succession of officials hoping to nurture agreement with China on containing emissions.
Todd Stern arrived in Beijing on Sunday on a mission that he said would include pressing China to agree to hard numbers on emission reductions under the next treaty on global warming, to be hammered out in Copenhagen in December.
In a meeting on Monday, Vice Premier Li Keqiang reiterated to Stern that developing countries like China should be held to a different standard, according to a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry's website.
The statement gave no clues on whether some compromise might eventually be reached between the world's number one and two emitters of the gases blamed for raising the earth's temperature.
The threat of global warming and pressure for a deal in Copenhagen are, nonetheless, driving Beijing to explore ways to reconcile development and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.
Chinese thinktanks have been seeking to map a path to a low-carbon economy, and their ideas are likely to be part of what China might offer as a contribution to fighting global warming. But these blueprints are still on the drawing board and would take years to be implemented, leaving decades before China's emissions begin to level off.
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