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Youth summit discusses climate change

Updated: 2012-08-14 11:14
By Lan Lan in Rudong, Jiangsu ( China Daily)

The recent examples of extreme weather across China - such as the heavy rain in Beijing last month - have highlighted climate change issues, China's chief climate change negotiator said on Monday.

"Climate change is not necessarily the direct reason behind extreme weather events, but it's definitely one of the reasons," said Su Wei, who heads the Department of Climate Change of the National Development and Reform Commission.

"The risks of climate change have been talked about for decades, and now they're occurring," Su told China Daily on the sidelines of the 2012 International Youth Leadership Summit on Climate Change.

The impact of climate change is evident everywhere in recent years, Su said. Global heat waves, droughts and floods occur frequently.

The deteriorating environment is a reminder to people to adopt proactive measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change, as well as change their ways of life and modes of production, he said.

China wants to develop a green and low-carbon economy, as it is one of the countries that are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change, he said.

"China has proactively and constructively participated in international negotiations to address climate change, striving to make positive contributions to build a fair and equitable international system to address climate change," Su said in a speech at the summit.

The week-long summit brings together more than 70 college and high school students from 17 countries in Rudong, a coastal county in Jiangsu province, to discuss climate change, one of the greatest challenges for humanity this century and a common concern of the international community.

Participants paid only for their round-trip tickets, with other expenses covered by the NDRC, which aims to create a platform for young people to exchange ideas on how to build a low-carbon future.

The summit is co-organized by US non-profit organization iLive2Lead, which provides leadership training programs to young women.

"Climate change poses long-term threats and the young leaders will surely play an increasingly prominent role," Su said.

Participants discussed how to take action to protect the environment, such as packed lunches with reusable containers and turning off the lights when leaving rooms.

Apart from self-discipline, they were encouraged to make the world better by developing a strong sense of leadership.

The schedule of the seven-day summit will be tight and include environmental issue discussions, project planning and leadership training.

The participants all have specialized interests in environmental issues and environmental protection.

Wang Yufei, a student at the experimental high school affiliated to Beijing Normal University, conducted research about climate change's influence on agricultural production with his friends in Ningxia Hui autonomous region last year.

"We are not only Earth's residents, but its owners. Maybe in 10 or 50 years, we will be at the bargaining table negotiating climate change.

So it's better to solve this now, while there's still time to reverse it," Wang said.

Thijs Kuijper, 18, a student at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands, who used to be president of the European Youth Parliament for Water, said he is looking forward to know more about the water, environment and technologies in the world's second-largest economy.

"Unlike negotiators, we care little about the stances of countries, we only care about the future of the planet," said a Chinese student at the summit.