China on Thursday said it would stand with India and other developing countries at the climate talks in Copenhagen, and cautioned that the talks could not succeed unless developed countries “honour their promises” to cut emissions.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said China's decision to set a voluntary carbon intensity target in no way suggested any change in its position ahead of the talks. He said China “understood India's current situation,” and backed India's position that any emissions reduction target would only be voluntary and based on national conditions.

China last week committed itself to reducing its carbon intensity, or emissions per unit of GDP, by 40-45 per cent of the 2005 levels by 2020.

The proposal led to some fears among other developing nations, including India, that they would be expected to offer similar targets at the talks.

But Mr. Qin stressed that China's target was “independent and voluntary.” “China and India both are developing countries and victims of climate change,” he said. “The two countries do not have obligations to binding emissions reduction targets. On climate change, both countries have same positions, same concerns and same demands.”

China and India, along with Brazil and South Africa, this week submitted a joint draft listing their non-negotiable demands ahead of Copenhagen. The draft said the countries would not accept legally binding cuts and international measurement, reporting and verification of unsupported mitigation actions.

In the draft, the countries also voiced their opposition to setting a goal of halving world greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and an emissions peak by 2020. European diplomats described the draft as “defensive,” according to a Reuters report.

China and India argue that developing nations are under no obligation to commit themselves to any binding emissions targets, and have called on the West to take on greater cuts to fulfil their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Road Map. China and India want Western countries to cut emissions by 40 per cent below the 1990 levels by 2020. The United States has offered to cut its emissions only by 3 per cent of the 1990 levels, while Europe has hinted at a 20-30 per cent cut. Western countries say large developing nations, like China and India, must also undertake commitments as part of any global effort to cut emissions.

China on Thursday reiterated its position, also shared by India, that a successful outcome in Copenhagen hinged on the West fulfilling its targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

“We hope developed nations honour their commitments with actions,” Mr. Qin said. “Success of the [Copenhagen] meeting lies in if we can stick to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the mandate of the Bali Road Map. But if relevant parties do not honour their promises, then the Copenhagen meeting cannot succeed.”