Challenge is issued at CIOB’s global construction summit in Shanghai today

John Prescott, the former deputy prime minister and the UK’s lead negotiator in the Kyoto Protocol, said today that China must be transparent about its carbon emissions and accountable to the global community.

He was speaking in his opening speech at the Chartered Institute of Building’s global construction summit in Shanghai.

He said: “China will not accept externally imposed limits on emissions because it’s like foreign domination and I understand that, but China needs to respect the principles of accountability and transparency.”

But Prescott also said the West must recognise the needs of the rest of the world to catch up in development and standards of living – and “expanding fossil fuel consumption is still a must for them”.

He said: “It’s no longer possible for a few strong and rich countries to try and control others by dictate. Rich countries must bear the greatest burden for the problem they created.”

He insisted the only way to ensure fair carbon reduction globally is to take account of countries’ per capita carbon emissions. By that measure, the US, where each person produces on average 33 tonnes of carbon each year, have a lot more work to do than China, where the average per capita figure is four tonnes.

He concluded by saying the built environment has a critical role to play in climate change and said he was confident the CIOB could help promote sustainability around the world as many countries rush to urbanise.