UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – Former US vice president and environmental activist Al Gore on Tuesday hailed China and Japan for providing global leadership in tackling climate change.
Speaking at a special UN summit on climate change, the Nobel laureate praised statements made by both Chinese President Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.
"I think that China has provided impressive leadership," Gore told reporters.
Predicting that China would take further action if global negotiations on a new treaty succeed, Gore said: "I think the glass is very much half full with China.
"It's not widely known in the rest of the world but China in each of the last two years has planted two and half times more trees than the entire rest of the world put together," he said.
Chinese President Hu Jintao said that the world's largest developing economy was ready to slow down emissions by a "notable margin." But he said emissions would be measured in terms of China's growth and did not provide a figure.
The United States has led rich nations in demanding that China and other developing nations commit to action in a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, whose requirements on rich states to cut emissions expire in 2012.
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, making his first international appearance since his center-left government took charge, confirmed to the summit that the world's second largest economy would ramp up its commitments.
He pledged that Japan would cut emissions by 25 percent by 2020 compared with the 1990 level, a goal far more ambitious than the previous government's eight percent.
Gore described Hatoyama's speech as "terrific" and said he was "encouraged by his pledge to step up assistance for developing nations.
"Japan, along with the European Union, has provided tremendous political leadership over the past decade in keeping the world on track toward progress involving the climate crisis," he said.