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Ambassador Zhang Jun Attends Clingendael Institute Seminar on Energy and Climate Change
2009/11/18

On 18 November, Ambassador ZHANG Jun attends Seminar "China: Leading the Global Energy Transition?" organized by the Netherlands Clingendael Institute and delievers key note speech entitled "the Future Development of China: Meeting the Energy and Climate Challenge". Full text of the speech is as follows.

It gives me great pleasure to be invited to attend today's seminar and exchange views with you on China's development and the issue of climate change. Taking this opportunity, I would like to share with you the following thoughts:

    I. China takes a serious and responsible attitude in tackling climate change and has made great achievement. In recent years, with the rapid development of China's economy, China's greenhouse gas emission and its policies and measures in tackling climate change draw great attention of the international society, including some negative and distorted reports and comments. To make sure that we have an objective and comprehensive evaluation of the measures taken by China in tackling climate change and its positive outcome, let me share with you some basic information.

    First, China has established a comprehensive framework of policies in tackling climate change. Climate change is a major challenge the whole world faces today. China is fully aware of its responsibilities to its own people and people across the world in this regard. Based on a long term strategy of development, China has established and formulated a comprehensive framework of policies in coping with these challenges.  The major elements are: 1. A strategic goal, i.e. Building a conservation culture and a resource-conserving and environment-friendly society in China. 2. A new concept of development, i.e. to make China's development a comprehensive, balanced and sustainable one. 3. A national plan of action, i.e. The National Climate Change Program, which comprehensively stipulates China's position, policies and actions in tackling climate change. In 2008, China published its white paper entitled China's Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change.

    Second, our target is clear and concrete. Based on our national plan, we set a number of national targets: to reduce energy consumption per unit GDP by 20%, to increase the share of renewable energy to 10% in primary energy supply, to increase the forest coverage rate to 20% from the period of 2005 to 2010. All these are going well today. By reducing energy intensity alone, China can save 620 million tons of standard coal in the five-year period, equivalent to cutting 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. It contributes greatly to the emission reduction in the whole world.

    Third, our measures are strong and resolute. It is obvious that the financial crisis adds new challenges in China's efforts in tackling climate change. However, China also views the crisis as a good opportunity in adjusting its economic structure, transforming development model, promoting the optimization and upgrade of the industrial structure. Among the 4 trillion RMB used for tackling financial crisis, 210 billion was used for energy saving, emission reduction and ecological project, 370 billion was used for economic structure adjustment and technological innovation. Investment used for tackling climate change accounts for a big percentage in the whole stimulus package. Besides, in the field of renewable energy, China's investment is also one of the largest in the world. In 2008, China ranks world No. 1 in using hydro and solar energy, and ranks world No. 4 in using wind energy.

    Fourth, the achievement is outstanding. Compared with 2005, the energy consumption per unit GDP in 2008 has reduced by 10.1%. Totally, 660 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions have been cut in three years. In the first half of 2009, the energy consumption per unit GDP has reduced by another 3.35%. The percentage of renewable energy in the total energy consumption has increased from 7.5% in 2005 to the current 9%. We are optimistic in achieving all the major targets set in The National Climate Change Program. We are also proud to say that in taking actions to reduce carbon dioxide emission, China is by no means inferior to any other countries.

    I hope the above-mentioned information may help friends better understand the situation in China. Furthermore, to have an objective and comprehensive evaluation of China's greenhouse gas emission, we should also take into account other relevant elements. First, we should not only look at present, but also see this issue from a historical perspective. In the past century, China's greenhouse emission only accounts for 8% of the world total. Second, we should not only see the total volume, but also per capita emission. It is true that the total volume of China's greenhouse gas emission is huge, but per capita emission is only 4.27 tons, much lower than the world average. At present, Germany's per capita emission is 10 tons, OECD country 11 tons, the Netherlands 12 tons, the US 19 tons. Third, we should not only look at production, but also consumption. Emission resulting from products for exports accounts for 20% of China's total greenhouse gas emission,which means one fifth of China's total emission is for other countries. Forth, we should always bear in mind that China is still a developing country. China does make great development achievement, but it is still the biggest developing country in the world. Poverty is the greatest challenge facing China. China's total economic output is one of the largest in the world, but its per capita GDP is only US$3315, still lags behind more than 100 countries. It is still a medium and low income country. According to UN standard, there are still 150 million people in China living below the poverty line. Economic and social development and poverty reduction remain as China's most challenging task. In order to achieve developing target, energy consumption in the future will still increase in a reasonable limit. In short, as a developing country, China can not and should not undertake responsibilities beyond its own capacity, let alone the same responsibilities as that of developed countries.

    II. Climate change is a challenge for the whole world, it is also a challenge for China. As one of the world's major and emerging economy, China knows very well the responsibility it shoulders. We will continue to be guided by scientific concept of development, firmly implement sustainable development strategy, undertake international responsibilities consistent with its own capacities and continue to contribute to the common development of the world and international efforts in tackling climate change. In the following years, China's major policies and practices can be summarized in the following three aspects.

    Firstly, China will continue to pursue sustainable development and tackle climate change in a responsible manner while focusing on the central task of economic development. As the biggest developing country in the world, China's overall development is still at a rather low level and China is still faced with many challenging tasks. Economic development and poverty reduction are still the most important tasks for the Chinese government and people,they are also important responsibilities China shoulders in promoting the world economic development. At the same time, it is crystal clear that China will not follow the traditional development model of developed countries. China's development is a comprehensive, balanced and sustainable one. We are fully aware of our responsibilities and what we will do is to maintain a balance between achieving economic growth and protecting our environment. Facts have proven that climate change is not only an environmental issue, but also a development issue. It must and can only be solved in the process of development. Especially for the wide majority of developing countries, a balance must be secured between the two. To sacrifice development in the name of environment protection is neither fair nor realistic. China will strive hard in building a conservation culture and adhere to the basic state policy of conserving resources and protecting the environment. We will follow the path of sustainable development. We will continue to take energy saving and emission reduction as our main target. We will work hard to adjust economic structure, transform development model, promote energy saving, improve the efficiency of energy utilization, optimize energy structure and promote technological innovation. We will continue to improve mitigation and adaptation capacity in the context of sustainable development.

    Secondly, China will solidly implement the policies and measures it adopted in tackling climate change and strive to achieve concrete results. What is important is not what you say but what you do. China's efforts in formulating policies, implementing concrete measures and reducing the emission of carbon dioxide have been widely recognized by the international community. But we will not be complacent with the past achievements. In the coming days, China will focus on the following tasks: First, integrate actions on climate change into national economic and social development plan. Second, promote the implementation of China's National Climate Change Program, continue to improve and implement the Program during the twelfth five-year-plan period. Third, step up effort to develop green economy, and enhance research, development and dissemination of climate-friendly technologies. Fourth, enhance comprehensive capacity building in tackling climate change. Fifth, strengthen the legal system for tackling climate change. Sixth, actively engage in international exchanges and cooperation. Based on these, we will strive to achieve the following target: to cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by a notable margin by 2020 from the 2005 level; to develop renewable energy and nuclear energy and increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 15% by 2020; to increase forest carbon sink and increase forest coverage by 40 million hectares and forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 from the 2005 level.

    Thirdly, China will actively participate in international cooperation and join hands with other countries for a positive outcome of the Copenhagen climate change conference. China has always been supporting the Copenhagen conference. We are of the view that the conference should achieve positive outcome in strengthening the comprehensive, effective and sustained implementation of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, especially in making clear and concrete arrangement on mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and financial support. Developed countries should continue to take the lead in emission reduction after 2012, they should also provide financial and technical support to developing countries, so as to improve their capacity in tackling climate change. Developing countries should contribute to the international efforts in tackling climate change by implementing sustainable development strategy. We are of the view that key to the success of the conference lies in upholding UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, stay committed to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and the mandate of the Bali Roadmap. We should not divert from this direction, nor should we move backward. Even though we are still faced with a lot of difficulties in the negotiating process, we do have achieved many consensus and are moving toward the direction of making more progress. China stands ready to join hands with all countries for a better outcome of the Copenhagen conference.

    Thank you for your attention.

 

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