A high-ranking UN official praised China for its efforts in energy conservation and called President Hu Jintao's highly anticipated attendance at the UN climate change summit a "strong signal" to the world.
Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), made the remarks on Sunday (US eastern standard time zone) during an event to designate Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen as goodwill ambassador of the organization to raise awareness about environment protection.
Sunday's gala was one of many activities held during Global Climate Week, which coincides with the UN summit on climate change to push world leaders to agree to an effective deal at the UN Climate Change Conference Copenhagen in December.
"Just in the last few years I have seen tremendous efforts in China on energy efficiency," Steiner told China Daily, pointing to the country's investments in renewable energy and the fact that China has become the world's largest wind-power producer this year.
According to government statistics, China is well on its way to achieving its target of cutting energy use per unit of GDP by 20 percent in the five years until 2010, which will prevent about 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide - a major greenhouse gas - from being released into the atmosphere.
The country's per capita greenhouse gas emissions stood at 3.58 tons in 2004.
China has also set the goal of raising the proportion of renewable energy in its total energy mix from 7 percent to 10 percent during its Five-Year Plan (2006-10).
Because of China's competitiveness in renewable energy, Steiner said he believed the nation will benefit from a global agreement on a low-carbon economy because the country has the "industries, technologies and a role to play in the global marketplace" in the years to come.
Despite the slow progress made in negotiations on climate change, Steiner expressed hope that a final deal will be reached in Copenhagen later this year.
"The world will not forgive us if we don't make a deal," he said. "We have the science, we have the technology, we have the policies. We need courage, leadership and solidarity among nations to reach a meaning deal."
During Sunday's event, Bundchen, the face of some of the world's most exclusive products, now becomes the face of global environmental action.
"Together we will make a difference, and we have to take responsibility," said Bundchen to a cheering crowd. "This is our planet. It's our job as civilians to do our part. We can make it happen."
(China Daily September 22, 2009)