The world’s largest greenhouse-gas emitter, China, will agree to cut its soaring carbon dioxide emissions, one of the country’s leading environmentalists forecast yesterday.

But it would only be on the basis of a deal with the United States and the rest of the developed world.

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.

However, no agreement was likely at next month’s major international meeting in Bali, Indonesia, of the parties to the protocol, which will seek to define the way forward in the treaty. He also said agreement was unlikely to be met with the negotiating forum of the “G8 plus Five” – the rich countries of the G8 bloc in climate change talks with the five leading developing nations of China, India, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico, a formula instituted by Tony Blair at the G8 summit in Gleneagles in 2005.

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.

Mainly because the world will be in a post-Bush era.