U.N. officials joined Chinese technocrats on the sidelines of the climate talks in Durban, South Africa, on Tuesday to discuss China's achievements in the development of a low carbon economy.
Speaking at an event organized by state-owned clean energy giant China Energy Conservation and Environment Protection Group, company executives and Chinese officials highlighted the country's success in cutting emissions per unit of output as the world's second largest economy continues its breakneck growth.
"Under the guidance and leadership of the Chinese government, Chinese enterprises will make development of the low carbon economy a strategic focus," CECEP chairman Wang Xiaokang told a gathering of officials and reporters at the China Pavilion. "The pursuit of economic, social and environmental value will be a core component of our corporate values."
Wang said China, the world's largest emitter of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, has and will continue to do its part to cut pollution and shoulder its responsibilities as a member of the international community.
He cited efforts to reduce the country's dependence on dirty coal plants for power production as one of the country's many environmental success stories. In 2005, he said, China consumed 1.28 tons of coal to create every 10,000 yuan (US$1,573.71) of GDP. Five years later, that figure had dropped more than 19 percent to 1.03 tons, saving 63,000 tons of coal and cutting CO2 emissions by more than 1.46 billion tons.
According to China's 12th Five-Year Plan, energy consumption per 10,000 yuan of GDP will drop to 0.869 tons of coal by 2015, with non-fossil fuel accounting for 11.4 percent of primary energy consumption. The Chinese government has also promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit GDP by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.
China has leapfrogged the West in recent years to become the world's largest manufacturer of wind turbines and solar panels. It also leads the world in wind turbine installation. According to government figures, China's installed wind power capacity reached 40 gigawatts at the end of 2011. Its installed photovoltaic solar power capacity hit a more modest 1 gigawatt, but plans project it will reach 10 gigawatts by 2015.
China's clean energy and power conservation sector employed 28 million people this year, producing output worth 2.4 trillion yuan.
"The Chinese government and its businesses have fulfilled their responsibilities and made an outstanding contribution to tackling climate change worldwide," Wang said, calling on the Durban Conference to lend its ear to the country's suggestions and affirm a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol.