China pledged yesterday to substantially improve the energy efficiency of its factories, homes and power plants in a bid to progress climate change talks at the UN this week.

Hu Jintao, president of China, failed to set specific targets on emissions, disappointing other governments, which had been hoping for more, reports the Financial Times.

“We will endeavour to cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by a notable margin by 2020 from the 2005 level,” he told a meeting of more than 100 world leaders at the UN.

There has been little progress at the talks which come in the run up to climate talks in Copenhagen in December, when countries will attempt to agree on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, who opened the one-day summit, said: “Failure to reach broad agreement in Copenhagen would be morally inexcusable, economically short-sighted and politically unwise.”

Leaders at the summit have been hoping that China takes firm action on climate change, in part to help overcome resistance to an agreement in the US.