China a constructive player in global fight against climate change

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At the opening ceremony of the ongoing Paris climate change conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed his country's confidence and resolve regarding its commitments in the global fight against climate change.

With "extreme resolution" and bold actions, China stands today as a staunch supporter, active contributor and constructive player in the global climate campaign, providing wisdom and inspiration to the conclusion of a major global climate agreement.


In his speech in Paris, Xi stressed China has the resolve to walk its words, with regard to its commitment to combating climate change.

As a matter of fact, China, as a developing country, has been pushing its limits to contribute to the common goal that would safeguard sustainable development for mankind.

In his speech, Xi reiterated China's pledge made in June to cut its carbon emissions per unit of the GDP by 60-65 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, and increase non-fossil fuel sources in primary energy consumption to about 20 percent and peak its carbon emissions by the same date.

These pledges represent a big step further from the previous emission control targets of the world's second largest economy, which has been unswervingly committed to fighting global warming even faced with economic downturn pressure.

"This requires strenuous efforts but we have confidence and resolve to fulfill our commitments," Xi said.

"President Xi showed his resolve to address climate change and reach a strong agreement, with all countries taking action," said Jennifer Morgan, global director of the Climate Program, the World Resources Institute.

"His comments show that China is ready to step into a pivotal role in reaching common ground on key issues here in Paris," Morgan added.

Although it is and will still be a developing country for a long time to come, China has been actively engaged in the global campaign on climate change, now topping the world in terms of energy conservation and utilization of new and renewable energies.

Moreover, climate change efforts are already integrated into China's medium- and long-term program of economic and social development, and ecological endeavors features prominently in China's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020).

China will, on the basis of technological and institutional innovation, adopt new policy measures to improve the industrial mix, build low-carbon system, develop green building and low-carbon transportation and establish a nationwide carbon-emission trading market, according to Xi.

"As the largest developing country, China's efforts in climate change have 'spill-over' and 'model' effects globally," said Zhang Haibin, a professor with Peking University.

For today's China, to act on climate change is not only driven by its domestic needs for sustainable development, but also driven by its sense of responsibility to fully engage in global governance, and to forge a community of shared destiny for humankind.

Li Junfeng, director of the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, said the announcement of the 2030 goal shows China's resolution to follow a path of green and low-carbon development.

"This is not at request by others but on our own initiative," Li said.


While taking bold actions and making progress on its own climate change fight, China has also taken an active part in international cooperation in climate change and provided assistance within its capability to other developing countries.

The country has inked a bunch of bilateral climate agreements with big emitters like the United State, France, India, Brazil and the European Union.

During Xi's state visit to the United States in September, China and the United States issued a second joint statement on climate change, following their first in November 2014, sending a strong signal that the top two economies in the world will join hands to tackle the global challenge.

In a joint China-France statement on climate change issued during French President Francois Hollande's visit to Beijing in early November, the two countries agreed to have a five-year review process to assess and strengthen national commitments to be sure that there won't be more than two degrees of global warming by the end of the century.

Over the years, China has earnestly fulfilled its policy commitments of South-South cooperation regarding climate change to support developing countries.

In September, Beijing announced the establishment of an independent South-South cooperation fund of 20 billion RMB (3.1 billion U.S. dollars) to help the developing countries affected by global warming.

"Xi has embraced China's role of the largest emerging economy to help developing countries to tackle climate change via South-South cooperation, providing financial, technological and capacity building support," said Morgan.

Echoing Morgan's view, Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said China, as an emerging economy, offered a concrete pledge to fight global warming, adding that the positive and generous step will benefit those developing countries in lack of funds.

At the Paris climate summit, Xi also pledged to launch cooperation projects next year to set up 10 pilot low-carbon industrial parks and start 100 mitigation and adaptation programs in other developing countries and provide them with 1,000 training opportunities on climate change.

"This shows China's consistent stance of supporting developing countries," said He Jiankun, a climate change expert of Tsinghua University.


While showing China's resolve to address the challenge, Xi's speech also displayed the wisdom of reaching an agreement with the "win-win" mentality.

"For global issues like climate change, a take-more-give-less approach based on expediency is in nobody's interest," Xi said, calling on all countries, the developed ones in particular, to assume more shared responsibilities for win-win results.

Observers said Xi's proposal of rejecting the narrow-minded "zero sum game" mentality and creating a future of win-win cooperation with each country making contribution to the best of its ability provided inspiration to reaching a major global climate agreement.

"The crux of the climate change negotiation is obtaining financial and technical support for developing countries' capacity building, and specifying the timetable and roadmap of funding support by developed countries after 2020," said Wang Ke, a researcher with Renmin University.

In his speech, Xi reiterated the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities," a cornerstone laid by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992, must be upheld during the upcoming climate negotiations.

Xi also suggested the Paris conference accommodate the national conditions of various countries and lay emphasis on practical results.

It is imperative to respect differences among countries, especially developing ones, in domestic policies, capacity building and economic structure, the Chinese leader said.

He noted that the legitimate needs of developing countries to reduce poverty and improve their peoples' living standards should not be denied when the issue of climate change is being addressed.

Along with leaders of other developing nations, Xi called upon developed countries to honor their commitment to climate finance and transfer of low-carbon and eco-friendly technologies to developing countries.

Developed countries agreed to mobilize 100 billion dollars each year before 2020 and provide stronger financial support to developing countries afterwards during the 2009 Copenhagen conference. Yet, only 62 billion dollars have been raised as of 2014, according to an OECD report released in October.

"Developed countries should honor their commitment, mobilizing 100 billion dollars each year before 2020, and provide stronger financial support to developing countries afterwards," said Xi.

"It is also important that climate-friendly technologies should be transferred to developing countries," he added.

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