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Hu to elaborate on climate change stance of China

By Huang Xiangyang and Li Jing (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2009-09-21 16:30

The world's attention will be on President Hu Jintao when he addresses the UN climate change summit tomorrow to elaborate on China's policies and measures to fight global warming. It will be the first time a top Chinese leader talks about the country's stance on climate change at the United Nations.

China, as the world's largest developing country and one of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, is facing calls from some industrialized nations to set binding limits on emissions.

China has long insisted that global warming is caused by the industrialization of developed countries, which accounts for more than 80 percent of accumulative greenhouse emissions in the atmosphere. Developing countries share "common but differentiated" responsibility in the fight against rising temperatures. The nation will commit to its responsibilities as enshrined in the UN framework convention on climate change, the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Roadmap.

There is no indication that China would shift from this long held position, but President Hu said he will use the opportunity to assure the world of China's resolve to fight global warming and its willingness to collaborate with the international community to fulfill this common task. Hu will call on the world leaders to consolidate consensus already reached and turn the global strife to fight climate change into a "win-win situation based on mutual benefits". This will pave the way for world leaders to reach an all-around agreement at the UN climate change convention in Copenhagen scheduled for December. "Hu will send a positive signal" to the international bid to curb rising temperatures", Vice-Foreign Minister He Yafei told a news briefing last week.

Cao Jing, a research fellow with the Center for China in the World Economy at Tsinghua University, said Hu will call on the rich countries to commit to deep and meaningful cuts in carbon emissions.

China believes that tackling climate change should not hinder the economic growth of developing countries, which are the major victims of the developed nations' industrialization process. Helping developing countries adapt to climate change is not a charity done by, but the responsibility of, rich nations.

Hu will ask the developed countries to keep their promises made to developing countries in terms of funding, technology transfer and capacity building, Cao said.

China has requested that rich countries pay 0.7 percent of their GDP to poorer ones to help them adapt to the effects of global warming, and emphasized on equal treatment in mitigation and adaptation.

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Hu is also likely to express China's opposition to trade protectionism under the name of fighting climate change, such as levying a carbon tariff on goods imported from developing countries unequipped with stringent environmental rules, as proposed by the US and EU, Cao said.

China has been more aware of climate change than it's often given credit for. Though not committing to a binding target in the reduction of greenhouse gases, it has set the goal of cutting energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent from 2006 to 2010, according to China's 11th Five-Year Plan. The country has also worked to raise the ratio of renewable energy such as wind and solar power from 7 percent of the total energy mix to 10 percent within that timeframe. China is "well on the way to meet the targets", said Xie Zhenhua, the top envoy in climate change talks, last week

Hu is likely to announce the "next policies, measures and actions" China is going to take during his speech, Xie said.

Though details are not available, it is certain they will be built up on the current policies on reduction of energy use per unit of GDP. Measures might include carbon emission reduction targets, as reported by some Chinese media.

Yang Ailun, climate and energy campaign manager for Greenpeace, said she learned Hu may announce a target for taking a new low-carbon path for development. It means China would soon assess its economic performance by how much less carbon it would emit per unit of GDP.

Europe views itself as the world leader and wants to limit climate change to 2 C above pre-industrial levels by 2050. It has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020, and to raise this to 30 percent if there is agreement at Copenhagen.
In the past few years while adhering to the Scientific Outlook on Development Hu promotes, China has been working towards rigorous targets - which it had set for itself - to promote clean energy, push for energy efficiency and cut greenhouse emissions.
I hope China will categorically outline her stance on vital international issues. I would be totally disappointed if deliberations after this UN summits turn out to be "the same old wine in old cups."
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