China Day to show green pledge and action

By Chen Weihua
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, December 8, 2010
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The Song County in central China's Henan province, home to more than half a million people, is on the government poverty county list. Its annual revenue is not much more than 300 million yuan (US$45 million).

Yet some 10 million in revenue was expected to be lost in the last three months of this year since polluting mines and factories were shut down under the government policy to reduce carbon emissions and conserve energy. The decision also costs between 200-300 jobs.

"The pressure on environment protection and people's lives are extremely acute, but I feel there is no other way out for us but to pursue a low carbon economy," Li Dawei, the country magistrate said on the opening day of the China Day, a side event organized by The Climate Group, an international NGO.

As head of one of the more than 2,000 counties in China, Li wanted the rest of the world to know that county level governments are taking actions in fighting climate change. He said much of the central government commitment in carbon reduction will be fulfilled at the grass-root county levels.

With no access to highway and not even on the government list as a city open to overseas investors, Li said the difficulty of switching to a low carbon economy has been multiplied.

He does hope the higher government will give him more support in policy, fund and project to help restructure the economy in his county, where scenic zones sit side by side with gold and rare-earth mines.

Yang Xin of Green River, an NGO to raise public awareness of glaciers in China, said there is a lot of attention about low-lying areas but not much at all about people living in highland. "In the long run, these people will become ecological refugees too although in the short term it might mean warm weather and more flourishing plants," he said.

The Green River, based in Chengdu, Sichuan province, has brought eight people to Cancun this time to voice their concerns. At home in China, it has also organized events to raise awareness among college students and publicize scientific research about the disappearing glaciers.

Feng Lun, chairman of Vantone Group, a giant property developer in China, said the NGO he represented this time -- the Society of Entrepreneurs & Ecology -- not only just attends events, but also acts.

"For Vantone, our strategy since three years ago has been that all the residential and commercial buildings we constructed will be green. It is compulsory," he said.

The three-day China Day event, which brought dozens of government officials, entrepreneurs and NGO representatives, is an effort to show China's resolve in switching to a low-carbon economy involving various sectors of the society.

"The event is a good example to help build bridge, which is essential for green revolution to happen," said Mark Kenber, deputy CEO of The Climate Group.

After talking about China's progress of hitting the target ahead of schedule in developing renewable energy and meeting energy efficiency target, Li Junfeng, deputy director of the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission, admits huge challenges still lie ahead.

"We have no other choice but to take a low-carbon approach. Every city represented here and everyone here would like to take the low-carbon approach, but don't know how to take the good approach. That's why we came here to seek help and find solutions," said Li, who has been dealing with China's climate change negotiations for many years.

"To halve emissions by mid century, we need all levels of government in every nation of the world to be looking to clean up their act. China has a credible plan to manage its future growth, prosperity and environmental commitments and is serious about making sure its cities and states understand the vital role they need to play on the ground in developing the next five-year economic plan," said Changhua Wu, Greater China director of The Climate Group.

"With an unprecedented urban growth rate and a wealthier urban population consuming increasingly more energy and resources per capita, cities are seen as central to China's climate challenge," she crowds foreign journalists, government officials, business people and NGO representatives.

Bert Metz, a fellow at the European Climate Foundation, said he is very excited to attend the China Day event. "(I am) very impressed with what has happened in city level in China and very impressed with what has been achieved there. Given the huge challenge in China, this is very positive," he said.

Jonathan O'Bergin, founder of Green Village China which has an office in Beijing, said he likes the day's event. "It's nice that things I know in China are presented here in a public forum.

"China has made a decision at high level. (It wants to) be sure the world understand the direction of China and be working together," said O'Bergin.

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