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Politics & press news – Embassy 21 – December 2009

Growing and greener

Chinese Ambassador Fu Ying says technology holds the key to cleaner development in the world's biggest developing country

China is a huge country with a population of 1.3 billion. It has diverse climatic conditions and a fragile environment. The effect of climate change is a very real threat which we face everyday.

Now the Chinese people have woken to the threat and, with the same zeal that we have embraced industrialisation, we are embracing cleaner development.

Cleaning up our act
First, on the legal and policy front, China set forward a voluntary reduction programme for 2006 to 2010 period, including 20 per cent reduction in energy intensity per unit of GDP. To achieve this, we amended laws and set up a strict evaluation system.

Second, the industries have to take very tough decisions to achieve clean development. Projects with high emissions can no longer go ahead and some existing high emitters are being phased out.

Third, we have increased, and will continue to increase, the percentage of cleaner alternative energy sources. China now ranks as first in the world for solar heating and photovoltaic generation, as well as installed hydro power capacity.

Fourth, we have geared up our efforts in reforestation. China has planted more trees than any other country in the world in the UNEP's Billion Tree Campaign, with 2.6 billion trees planted.

Last but not least, China is investing heavily in research and development. In the latest stimulus package worth £400bn pound, 15 per cent was invested in addressing climate change.

Thanks to all these efforts, China is well on track to reach our targets set for 2010, which means a reduction in CO2 emissions of 1.5 billion tons in five years by 2010.

Further steps are taken to counter climate change. The Chinese government has announced its targets for 2020 based on 2005 levels. They include:

bringing down CO2 per unit of GDP by 40-45%
increasing the ratio of non-fossil energy to 15%
expanding forest coverage by 40 million hectares

We will make all these into compulsory and verifiable targets, within the framework of our domestic development program.

The right to develop
However, we have to remember the fact that China remains a developing country. China's per capita GDP has just passed $3,000, ranking at 104th place in the world. China has 135 million people living under one dollar a day.

In per capita terms, an average Chinese person's emission is 4.6 tons. An average American emits 20 tons, and a Briton 8.7 tons.

We have condensed two centuries of industrialisation into only 30 years. China's difficult mission is to enable all of its 1.3 billion people to have the opportunity to realise their dreams, but to achieve it in an environmentally responsible way.

That is why we attach much importance to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which set out the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities". This is ultimately about fairness and equal right to development.

The Copenhagen conference will be a major milestone in the global effort to tackle climate change and the people of the world have high hopes on its outcome.

China's wishlist
For Copenhagen to be successful, China believes several things need to happen.

First, developed countries should undertake to achieve substantial emission reduction targets for the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.

Second, effective mechanisms should be set up to ensure that developed countries provide financial and technological support to developing countries.

Third, developing countries should also adopt mitigation measures according to their national conditions, within the framework of sustainable development and with financial and technological support from the developed countries.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will attend the conference. China is willing to play a constructive role in bringing the negotiations to a successful conclusion. We look forward to close cooperation with world in this process.

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HE Fu Ying


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