Three points, I believe, are very important to objectively evaluate the climate policies of developing countries.
The first is whether they regard an effective response to climate change as one of their priority policy objectives, the second is whether they have taken specific measures to meet the challenges brought by climate change; and the third is whether they are actively participating in international cooperation with regard to climate change and seriously implementing their obligations.
I will highlight the first two points.
First, the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last month explicitly proposed that the construction of a conservation culture be one of the most important strategic objectives of an all-round well-off society.
Second, China's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) stipulates that quantitative energy saving and pollutant discharge indicators be mandated to evaluate economic and social development. The Chinese government has committed itself to reducing energy consumption per unit GDP by 20 percent and pollutant discharges by 10 percent during this period. This constitutes a great challenge for the government in the next few years.
Third, legislation and regulations for effective response to climate change have been sped up. This year, the Chinese government issued a national climate program that specifies concrete objectives, policies, strategies and action plans.
And fourth, mechanisms to deal with climate change have also been established. For instance, a coordinating group with Premier Wen Jiabao as the head has been set up to coordinate efforts of the whole country in response to climate change.
China is a large developing country undergoing profound economic transition. In order to resolve the conflict between rapid economic growth and its energy-resource-environmental constraints, China is making great efforts in two respects.
The first is to change its economic development model and reconfigure its industrial structure, production mode and consumption model that can help save energy and resources and are environment-friendly.
The second is to include environment cost as one of the most important factors that make up the prices for energy and resources to reflect real supply-demand, and the scarcity of energy and resources. A few examples will help us see these efforts clearly.
About 720,000 enterprises in China were strictly examined for their discharge of pollutants in 2006 and 3,176 were closed because of their over-discharge.
The third, between 2006 and 2010, the levy on carbon dioxide emissions will be doubled from 0.63 yuan to 1.26 yuan per unit.
Climate change is not only an environmental issue, but also a development issue. The general trend of China's climate policy shows that the country is seriously responding to climate change to realize its dual purpose of economic development and environment protection, and to make new contributions to the climate change battle.
The author is executive president of the Hainan-based China Institute for Reform and Development (CIRD).
(China Daily November 28, 2007)