Guest Article #45

Strengthening International Cooperation to Address Climate Change

Climate change is related to human survival and development, and to the future of our common home, the planet Earth. Addressing climate change is a high priority for the Chinese Government, which has implemented a series of policies and actions to that end.

According to preliminary statistics, China's energy consumption per unit of GDP was reduced by 14.38% in 2009 from 2006 levels. Renewable energy constituted 9% of the total primary energy mix in 2009, and forest cover reached 20.36%. In spite of present difficulties, China expects to be able to reduce its energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20% by the end of 2010 from 2005 levels and increase its renewable energy to 10% of the total energy mix, leading to a carbon dioxide emission reduction of over 1.5 billion tons.

Realizing green growth by controlling greenhouse gas emissions while speeding up the development of low-carbon technologies and industries has become a major development trend globally. China is a developing country with a population of 1.3 billion and with 150 million people living under the poverty line. At present, China is speeding up its industrialization and urbanization, while facing the multiple challenges of developing its economy, improving livelihoods and protecting its environment. China needs to reduce energy and resource consumption, and control greenhouse gas emissions in order to fundamentally change its development path and achieve the win-win solution of developing its economy while addressing climate change. In the medium term, China's energy demand will continue to grow at a reasonable rate, but economic development will not be achieved by an unbridled increase in greenhouse gas emissions. As an important national development strategy, addressing climate change will be incorporated into the country's medium- and long-term national economic and social development programmes. China will develop a green economy, and engage on a low-carbon development path by building a national economic structure with high technology and science content, low resource consumption, and sound economic and environmental benefit. Before the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference last year, the Chinese Government committed to: reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% by 2020 from 2005 levels; increase its renewable sources to 15% of its total energy by 2020; and increase forest cover by 40 million hectares and forest stock by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 compared to 2005 figures.

At the end of 2010, the UN Climate Change Conference will be held in Cancún, Mexico. The core task of the Conference is to enhance an overall, effective and continued implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol pursuant to the requirements set in the Bali Road Map. To reach a positive outcome in Cancún, countries should strengthen mutual trust, deepen cooperation, and enhance their efforts to realize economic development while addressing climate change. Three elements should guide the negotiations in Cancun:

  1. Parties should adhere to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities so as to achieve equitable development globally. Developed countries, which have emitted large amounts of greenhouse gasses in the process of 200 years of industrialization, should bear the historical responsibility of reducing emissions on a large scale. Limiting the development of developing countries is neither reasonable nor fair. In terms of capacities, while developed countries possess great economic strength and advanced low-carbon technologies, developing countries, which face the challenges of creating economic growth, eradicating poverty and addressing climate change, lack both financial and technological resources. Developed countries must therefore take the lead in reducing emissions on a large-scale, thereby freeing up the space for the development of developing countries. Concurrently, developed countries should provide financial, technical and capacity-building support to developing countries to enable them to take the necessary mitigation and adaptation actions, and achieve sustainable development.
  2. All the countries are “in the same boat”, and they should help each other and cooperate for mutual benefit. Because climate change is the common challenge facing mankind as a whole, all countries should do their part and take joint actions to actively face this challenge. At the Copenhagen Conference, countries demonstrated their political will in actively addressing climate change. Following the Conference, most developed countries put forward their mid-term emission reduction targets and made concrete quick-start funding pledges. Furthermore, many developing countries submitted action programmes for greenhouse gas emission reduction. The key is now to turn this political will into concrete actions, and for all countries to fulfill their commitments. Technical innovation and technology transfer are of critical importance for realizing the dual goal of achieving development and addressing climate change. Developed countries have developed numerous climate-friendly technologies and management experiences in their industrialization process. The full utilization of these technologies and the development of new low-carbon technologies will be essential in mitigating climate change and realizing green growth.
  3. The Copenhagen Accord reiterates the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, reaffirms the two-track negotiation process laid out in the Bali Road Map, and reflects the common understanding of countries regarding their long-term objective, financial resources, technologies, emission reduction targets, and transparency . Some progress has been achieved in the climate change process, but there is still a fairly long way to go before a legally-binding agreement can be reached. We believe expected outcomes will be achieved in Cancún as long as parties: persist in taking the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol as the legal basis for the negotiations; adhere to the principles of openness, transparency, and broad participation in a negotiation process driven by parties and where consensus is reached through consultations; integrate, as soon as possible, the agreements contained in the Copenhagen Accord into the texts of the two ad hoc working groups; focus the negotiations on core controversial issues; and pursue practical solutions. China will dialogue and exchange views with all countries and interest groups to strengthen mutual understanding and trust in order to promote a cohesive atmosphere for international cooperation. By playing a positive and constructive role, China hopes to contribute to the success of the Cancún Conference and make new contributions to the protection of global climate and promotion of sustainable development of the world.