Potentially a very big deal — The Independent reports “China ‘will agree to cut its carbon emissions’“:

China, now the world’s biggest greenhouse-gas emitter, will eventually agree to cut its soaring carbon dioxide emissions, one of the country’s leading environmentalists forecast yesterday — but only on the basis of a deal with the United States and the rest of the developed world.

When is eventually?

The Chinese would be very unlikely to set their own unilateral target for reducing CO2, said Professor C S Kiang, the founding dean of the College of Environmental Science at the University of Beijing. But they would join in the next, post-2012 stage of the Kyoto protocol, the international climate change treaty, and seek to reduce their emissions to a definite figure, as long as this was part of a global agreement that involved all countries acting together — including the US — and the transfer to China of modern energy technology, he said.

Now, Kiang says, all the world needs is a new U.S. President:

He also suggested no agreement would be possible until after next year’s US election. President George Bush’s withdrawal of the US from Kyoto in 2001, with the abandonment of US climate targets, has been a major stumbling block to developing countries. “But by 2009-10, we might see light at the end of the tunnel,” Professor Kiang said.

Let’s hope so.

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.