China urges accommodation to "emissions of subsistence"

Updated: 2007-08-02 03:22

UNITED NATIONS- "Emissions of subsistence" and "development emissions" of poor countries should be accommodated while the "luxury emissions" of rich countries should be restricted, a Chinese diplomat said here Wednesday.

"Adapting to climate change is as important as mitigating climate change," Liu Zhenmin, China's deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, told an informal debate of the UN General Assembly on climate change.

Stressing the principles of equity and "common but differentiated responsibilities," Liu urged developed countries to "shoulder in good faith their historical and present responsibilities."

"The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol remain the international cooperation framework and effective mechanism for addressing climate change," he said.

Liu said efforts to address climate change should be conducive to sustainable development.

"For developing countries, economic development and poverty eradication are overriding priorities," Liu said. "In fulfilling these tasks, controlling greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the negative impact of climate change to the greatest extent will also contribute to achieving sustainable development."

He said the international community should take full account of the issue of adaptation to climate change and enhancing the capabilities of developing countries, small island developing countries and the least developed countries in particular, to respond to disastrous climate events.

Wednesday's debate at the UN General Assembly focused on national strategies and international commitments to address climate change. This followed two interactive panel discussions Tuesday: "Climate Change: the Science, the Impact and the Adaptation Imperative," and "Mitigation Strategies in the context of Sustainable Development."
Liu also stressed the importance of technological progress in tackling climate change.

"The international community should not only strengthen cooperation in research, development and innovation of new technologies, but also promote dissemination and utilization of existing technologies and make them affordable and accessible to developing countries," he said.

Liu said the Chinese government is fully aware of the gravity and urgency of the issue of climate change and has adopted a series of policies and measures to control greenhouse gas emissions, with major progress.

From 1990 to 2005, China's energy intensity went down by 47 percent, accounting for an accumulated emission reduction of 1.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide.

In 1980-2005, by planting trees and protecting forests, another 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide was absorbed.

Thanks to the adoption of family planning policy since the 1970s, the Chinese population is now 300 million less than that of expected, which accounts for an annual reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of 1.2 billion tons, Liu said.

"All these achievements have not come easily, and their contribution to addressing climate change is something to be reckoned with," he added.

Under China's National Climate Change Program, which was formulated and released in accordance with the provisions of UNFCCC, China will reduce by 20 percent energy consumption per unit GDP by 2010 from the level of 2005, raising the proportion of renewable energy in primary energy supply to 10 percent, keeping the emissions of nitrous oxide from industrial processes stable at the 2005 level and increasing forest coverage rate to 20 percent.

Liu noted that per capita carbon dioxide emissions of China, home to 21 percent of the world population, are less than one third of the average level of developed countries.

Although the Chinese economy has maintained a momentum of steady and fast growth in recent years, over 20 million rural people and over 22 million urban residents still live in poverty and the development of rural and urban areas and among different regions is imbalanced.

"To improve the living standards of its 1.3 billion people, China's 'development emissions' may inevitably increase," Liu said. "As a major manufacturer, China's products are enjoyed by countries across the world, but China itself has to bear the mounting pressure of 'transfer emissions.'"

"We hope that all parties take full note of these two factors while focusing on China's emissions," Liu said.

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