Chinese President Hu Jintao on Friday called for adherence to the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" in tackling climate change.
"We should adhere to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities established in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change," he told the outreach session between the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations and five major developing countries.
This principle, which recognizes differences among countries in the level of economic development, historical responsibility and current per capita emissions, forms the basis for maintaining and promoting future international cooperation, said Hu.
"Climate change is an environmental issue, but it is, in essence, a development issue," he said, adding that it occurred in the course of development and should be resolved in the context of sustainable development.
"The challenge of climate change can only be fully met by improving technologies in the course of development and making production and consumption patterns compatible with sustainable development," Hu said.
At the same time of working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the international community should give full consideration to managing the climate change that has already occurred and improving capabilities of preventing and mitigating climate disasters for developing countries, especially those small island countries and the least developed countries, he said.
Hu urged developed countries to meet the emissions reduction targets set in the Kyoto Protocol, provide assistance to developing countries and continue to take the lead in fulfilling obligations to reduce emissions after 2012.
"We welcome the EU's recent decision to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and hope that other developed countries will undertake similar obligation," he said.
Germany, which holds the rotating G8 presidency, has called for action to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius this century and to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent below the 1990 levels by 2050. The United States, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, voiced "fundamental opposition" to the German proposal.
As for developing countries, Hu stressed that many "still have a long way to go before achieving industrialization, urbanization and modernization, and they face an arduous task of developing economies and improving people's lives."
To meet their development goals, developing countries need to consume more energy. "This is essential for their development," he said.
"Developing countries should also, within their capability and in light of their actual conditions, take active steps to contribute to global sustainable development," he said.
The international community should strengthen cooperation and help more countries embark on a road of clean development that both protects the environment and eco-systems and ensures the fulfillment of their development goals, he said.
The clean development mechanism established in the Kyoto Protocol both enables developed countries to meet emission reduction obligations at a relatively low cost and facilitates sustainable development of developing countries.
Hu described it as "a win-win option" and it "should play a bigger role in future international cooperation on climate change, " he said.
This is the fourth time that Hu has attended the outreach session between G8 and the five developing countries -- Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.
The ongoing G8 summit will hold another outreach session between G8 leaders and leaders from Algeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa, along with Chairman the African Union Commission Alpha Oumar Konare, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The three-day summit has discussed climate change, African development, the Doha Round talks of the World Trade Organization and the U.S. plan to deploy a missile defense shield in Central Europe.
The G8, a coordination mechanism for leading industrialized countries, has been playing an important role in world politics and economy.
In recent years, the G8, consisting of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States, has strengthened its relations with developing countries and invited such nations as China and India to join in dialogue on major international issues.