China's population policy helps slow global warming

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, December 10, 2009
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China's population policy has been helping slow the process of global warming and can therefore be part of a comprehensive solution to climate change, a senior Chinese official said on Wednesday.

"There is a strong correlation between population growth and climate change," said Zhao Baige, vice minister of China's National Population and Family Planning Commission.

"China has managed to bring down its birth rate with the family planning policy in the past 30 years, which results in less population and less carbon dioxide emission," the official added.

China, the world's most populous country, introduced its family planning policy in the 1970s when confronted with a population explosion. Since then it has effectively slowed down excessive population growth.

Official figures showed the country's birth rate went down from more than 1.8 percent in 1978 to around 1.2 percent in 2007, resulting in 400 million fewer births cumulatively.

"Such a decline in population growth converts into a reduction of 1.83 billion tons of carbon dioxide emission in China per annum at present," Zhao said, adding that China's current emission is caused by the production for the purpose of subsistence.

According to the Paris-based International Energy Agency, per-capita emission of carbon dioxide in China is less than half of that in Britain and one fifth of that in the United States.

Zhao said China would table recommendations on population policy and climate change for the outcomes of the Copenhagen conference, which would call for full recognition of the links between population, resources, environment and development.

"An integrated approach in responding to climate change should be adopted based on coordinated and sustainable development among population, economy, environment, resources and ecosystem, with special attention on reciprocal impact between demographic changes and climate change," read part of the draft recommendations as seen by Xinhua.

Zhao, who is due to brief the media on Thursday, said climate change is more than an issue of reducing greenhouse gas emission.

"We should not limit our efforts to the reduction of greenhouse gas emission; rather, it is imperative to take a systematic and comprehensive approach in seeking a solution of the problem," she said.

China has formulated three major state policies on family planning, gender equality and environmental protection since it introduced reforms and opened its door to the outside world in the late 1970s, which indicates that China started to integrate the development of population, economy and society as early as decades ago.

"The policy on family planning proves to be a great success. It not only contributes to reduction of global emission, but also provides experiences for other countries, developing countries in particular, in their pursuit for a coordinated and sustainable development," Zhao said.

But the official said all parties should develop and implement effective plans and actions in climate change mitigation and adaption based on their own contexts and in line with common but differentiated responsibilities.

"The issue of climate change cannot be solved unless we manage to look after it in a comprehensive way and in light of the unique conditions of each country," Zhao said, adding that "developed countries must take further steps to reduce emission while developing countries need to focus on reinforcing their capacity of adaptation to climate change."

China in particular is expected to highlight the urgent need for data collection and studies on demographic dynamics and climate changes, as well as an assessment of the effect of climate change on human health, the official concluded.

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