Address by Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, at the World Future Energy Summit
(Abu Dhabi, January 16, 2012)
Let me begin by extending, on behalf of the Chinese Government, warm congratulations on the opening of the 5th World Future Energy Summit (WFES). I also wish to express sincere thanks to Your Highness and the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the good preparations and thoughtful arrangements you have made for the summit.
This is the fifth summit in WFES history. We are pleased to note that the summit has attracted more and more political leaders, representatives of international organizations, entrepreneurs, experts and scholars to seek inspiring ideas for future energy development and explore ways of sustainable development. It is of great significance for preserving our common homeland and promoting world economic recovery and prosperity.
This is my first visit to the UAE. Before coming here, I had learned that you are now building Masdar City in the heart of the desert, the world's first "Zero Carbon City," though the region is rich in oil reserves. Your vision and courage shown in taking this pioneering step is truly admirable. I wish you every success in this undertaking.
Energy provides the material foundation for sustaining human progress and constitutes an indispensable condition for the development of modern society. From burning firewood to coal and to the era of oil and gas, every change in how man uses energy is accompanied by tremendous advances in productivity. At the same time, exploitation and utilization of traditional fossil fuel has posed serious challenges to the sustainable development of mankind. As a result, a trend towards green development has emerged worldwide in recent years. Countries have actively explored ways to cut excessive consumption of energy and resources and pursue comprehensive, balanced and sustainable economic, social and ecological development. China has also made tireless efforts in this regard:
We have taken active steps to adjust the economic structure and intensify energy conservation and emission reduction. We have made sustained endeavor to reduce energy consumption and emission in the industrial, transport and construction sectors as well as sectors concerning people's livelihood. We have phased out a substantial number of obsolete production facilities and introduced advanced ones in the energy-intensive industries such as power generation, iron and steel, cement and electrolytic aluminium. Over the past five years, we have shut down small coal-fired power plants with a total generating capacity of 80 million kilowatts, equivalent to the total installed capacity of a medium-sized European country. The government has provided these enterprises with due compensation and arranged new jobs for the over 600,000 laid-off workers. It is worth mentioning that we made such progress under the enormous difficulties caused by the international financial crisis. And thanks to these measures, we have saved 92 million tons of raw coal and cut carbon dioxide emission by 184 million tons on an annual basis. Statistics show that China's energy consumption per unit of GDP fell by nearly 20 percent between 2005 and 2010, equivalent to the reduction of 1.46 billion tons of CO2 emissions. This is China's contribution to the global effort in mitigating climate change.
We have increased policy support to speed up clean energy development. By the end of 2011, China's installed capacity of hydropower generation reached 200 million kilowatts, ranking the first in the world. China has become the world's fastest-growing region in wind and solar power, with the installed capacity of 47 million kilowatts and 3 million kilowatts respectively. China's installed capacity of nuclear power has exceeded 10 million kilowatts, and 27 new generation units are under construction, the largest scale in the world. China's commitment to developing clean energy in terms of investment, speed and achievement has been widely recognized.
We have accelerated the upgrading of traditional industries to promote energy efficiency. We have advanced industrialization with information technology and used advanced applicable technologies to upgrade traditional industries with a view to significantly increasing energy efficiency. Over the past five years or so, we have launched a host of energy conservation projects nationwide to raise the energy efficiency of furnaces, electric mechanical equipment, construction and lighting. These efforts have produced notable results. For instance, coal consumption for coal-fired power generation per kilowatt/hour has been reduced by 37 grams, down by 10 percent. Energy consumption per ton of steel has been cut by 13 percent. And the energy efficiencies of newly built projects in heavy and chemical industries such as non-ferrous metals, building materials and petrochemicals have reached or approached advanced levels in the world.
We advocate a low-carbon way of life and encourage green consumption. Although China's per-capita energy consumption is much lower than that of the OECD countries, we encourage the public to spend in an economical, proportionate and rational way. We have launched the pilot projects of developing circular economy and low-carbon economy in big and medium-sized cities, industrial parks and enterprises to promote clean production and comprehensive use of resources. We have enforced strict energy saving measures in government offices and public buildings, requiring that their room temperatures be no lower than 26 degrees centigrade in summer and no higher than 20 degrees in winter. With the example set by the government, the public is becoming more self-motivated to conserve energy and embrace green consumption.
Since 2011, China has been implementing the 12th Five-Year Plan of national economic and social development. One of the priorities in the plan is to achieve substantial cuts in energy and carbon intensities as mandatory targets and keep total energy consumption at a reasonable level. We will gradually change the current energy mix dominated by coal, increase the share of high quality fossil fuel and significantly raise the supply of natural gas, nuclear energy and renewable energy. We will continue to meet the growing energy demand by mainly relying on domestic supply. We will pursue R&D and institutional innovation to raise efficiency in the energy conversion process and minimize green house gas emissions and discharge of pollutants in energy production and consumption. We have set the targets of raising the share of non-fossil fuel in primary energy to 11.4 percent from the 2010 figure of 8.3 percent and cutting energy and carbon intensities by 16 percent and 17 percent respectively from the 2010 levels by 2015. To achieve these goals, we face many difficulties and will have to pay a big price. But we will not waiver in our commitment.
A review of the history of world civilization shows that energy is vital to national development and people's livelihood. It also has inextricable links with international political dynamics. To address the future energy issue, one needs to take into consideration not only the economic and technological factors, but also political and international dimensions. We must all join together and work harder to develop future energy, build a stable, economical and safe energy supply system and mitigate the constraint and inequality caused by energy and resources. To this end, I wish to propose the following:
First, give top priority to energy conservation and energy efficiency. Energy conservation requires not only technological revolution but also changes in social behavior. To be economical and reject waste is a traditional virtue of all nations. And to save energy is indispensable to easing the tension between energy supply and demand. Both energy-rich and energy-scarce countries need to promote a conservation-friendly way of production, way of life and consumption pattern. To save energy does not mean to simply cut energy use, nor does it mean to compromise people's quality of life. What is needed is to rely on science and technology to increase energy efficiency, build a circular national economy featuring low input, high output and low energy consumption and emission, and drive sustainable economic and social development with minimum energy and resource consumption.
Second, vigorously develop renewable energy and clean energy. Widely distributed, renewable energy sources are in ample supply and their environmental impact is limited. Most of these energy sources can be used on a perpetual basis. They hold great potential for development and represent an important area in exploring future energy development. However, most renewable energy sources, except for hydropower, cannot yet fully meet our requirements in terms of economic viability and stability, and it is difficult to put them into extensive application. It is thus important that we enhance policy support, gradually bring down the cost and expand the use of renewable energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. Nuclear power is a safe, reliable and technologically mature source of clean energy. To develop nuclear power in a safe and efficient manner is a strategic choice for ensuring future energy supply. Fossil fuel will continue to dominate global energy consumption for a rather long time to come. Its development and utilization should be clean and efficient, and we need to follow a low-carbon approach in using such carbon-intensive energies. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has played an active role in promoting the development and utilization of renewable energy since its inception. China will continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with IRENA.
Third, promote revolution of science and technology in the energy sector. Science and technology decide the future of energy and creates future energy sources. The final solution to any future energy problem does not lie on the possession of energy resources, but possession of high technology and breakthroughs in science and technology. The upgrading of energy sources has a long cycle. It usually takes a decade, several decades or even longer and requires enormous financial input. Major energy consumers and producers have an important responsibility in promoting scientific and technological revolution in the field of energy. The government should scale up input, carry out more demonstration projects of scientific and technological innovation and advance the industrial application of R&D results. Once a major breakthrough is made, the strategic industry of future energy is bound to become a powerful engine driving economic growth. Developed countries with advanced technologies should, while protecting intellectual property rights, provide and transfer technologies to developing and underdeveloped countries.
Fourth, effectively safeguard energy security. Affected by the international monetary system, excessive speculation, operational monopoly and geopolitical factors, the energy commodity prices have deviated, to a great extent, from the supply-and-demand relations of the real economy. The big swings of these prices have aggravated the volatility of the global economy. Such an irrational situation must be fundamentally changed. To ensure the safe transport, effective supply and market stability of energy products serves the common interests of emerging economies, developed countries and energy exporting nations. It will also help remove the risks and impacts of the economic crisis. To stabilize the oil and natural gas markets, we may consider establishing, under the G20 framework, a global energy market governance mechanism that involves energy suppliers, consumers and transit countries under the principle of mutual benefit. We need to formulate just, equitable and binding international rules through consultation and dialogue, and set up multilateral coordination mechanisms covering forecast and early warning, price coordination, financial regulation and emergency response so that the global energy markets will be more secure, stable and sustainable.
World civilization is jointly created by all mankind and each nation has made its share of contribution. When talking about future energy development, we cannot neglect the unique status and role of West Asia and North Africa. With more than half of the world's proven oil deposits and over 40 percent of the global natural gas reserves, these regions have an important strategic position. People who have lived on this land for generations are hard-working, talented, courageous and warm-hearted. Your ancestors created splendid ancient civilizations. And today, you are as passionate as we are in building a green and hospitable global village. China respects the independent choice made by the countries and peoples in these regions and supports your efforts in developing the economy based on your resources endowment and strengths. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a responsible country, China will continue to work with the rest of the international community to promote peace, stability and development in West Asia and North Africa.
The dark clouds of the international financial crisis have yet to fully recede and social turmoil in some parts of the world has not calmed down. But crisis will eventually pass and prosperity will arrive. As the saying goes, "A single thread cannot make a cord, and a single tree cannot make a forest." China will work more closely with people of other countries to enhance sustainable innovation, develop future energy and build a new world of green and sustainable development.