Government and Policy

China committed to emission cut: Wen

By Li Xing, Sun Xiaohua and Fu Jing (
Updated: 2009-12-19 05:46
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COPENHAGEN: No matter what the outcome of the UN climate change conference is, China will remain committed to achieving and even exceeding the emission reduction targets it has said for itself, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Friday.

“We will honour our word with real action,” Wen told 119 heads of state and government attending the UN climate change conference, or COP15.

Before the conference began, China announced that it would reduce its carbon intensity emission per unit of GDP — by 40 and 45 percent by 2020, taking 2005 as the base year.

Speaking at an informal high-level meting, hosted by Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, on the last day of the conference, Wen elaborated China’s achievements in developing clean energy and cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Stressing that this is a voluntary move taken by China, Wen said: “We have not attached any condition to the target, nor have we linked it to the target of any other country.”

In responding to developed countries'insistance on transparency, Wen said: "We will further enhance the domestic statistical, monitoring and evaluation methods, improve the way for releasing emission reduction information, increase transparency and actively engage in international exchange, dialogue and cooperation."

Wen then met US President Barack Obama for nearly an hour in what a White House official described as a “step forward”.

“They had a constructive discussion that touched upon ... all the key issues,” the official said. “They’ve now directed their negotiators to work on a bilateral basis as well as with other countries to see if an agreement can be reached.”

But Obama refused to commit to new GHG emission cuts, a move that many said could have salvaged the floundering climate talks.

Since not much headway has been made toward a deal, negotiations could continue beyond Friday, the official last day of the conference.

Till late on Friday night (Beijing time), Rasmussen was locked in talks with some heads of state and government and ministers to see whether a political declaration could be made. He was also trying to strike a deal on “Long-term Cooperation Action” and possible amendments to Kyoto Protocol.

Before the two leaders’ meeting, leaders of major developed and developing economies such as US President Obama, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also addressed the informal high-level gathering.

Their speeches, though, showed their divergent views on how the world should work together to slow down global warming.

Singh, who supported China’s stance, said: “The vast majority of countries do not support any renegotiation or dilution of the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), especially the principle of equity and equitable burden sharing.”

Wen urged the international community to fight climate change on the basis of four principles. The international community should strengthen confidence, build consensus, make vigorous efforts and enhance cooperation, he said.

The countries should honor and follow the documents they are have agreed to since 1992, that is, the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol (1997) and the Bali Roadmap (2007), he said. They “should lock up rather than deny the consensus and progress already made at the negotiations”.

Upholding the fairness of rules is the second principle that Wen proposed. The principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities represents the core … of international cooperation on climate change”.

“It must never be compromised,” he said.

Industrialization began in the developing countries only a few decades ago and many of their people still live in abject poverty, he said. China alone has 150 million people living in poverty by UN standards.

“It is unjustified to ask them to commit to binding emission cut targets beyond their due obligations and capabilities in disregard to historical responsibilities, per capita emissions and different levels of development,” he said.

Third, we should pay attention to the practicality of the targets, he said.

“The Kyoto Protocol has set out clear emission reduction targets for developed countries for the first commitment period, until 2012. But a review of implementation shows that the emissions from many developed countries have increased instead of decreasing,” Wen said.

Fourth, the international community has to ensure the effectiveness of institutions and mechanisms. “Concrete actions and institutional guarantee are essential to our efforts to tackle climate change,” Wen said.

“I think Wen spoke with passion to seek a constructive and meaningful climate deal,” said Wu Changhua, Greater China Director of the Climate Group.

He made it clear that China was committed to pursuing a low-carbon economy despite the tremendous difficulties that it would face, Wu said.

Though China has a clear vision, some funds and technologies and is committed to the cause, aligning the vision, policy, money, technologies is still an uphill task for it, she said.

That Wen reiterated China’s position at the conference shows that the principles of UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol and Bali Action Plan should not be compromised, Wu said.

This position is shared by most developing countries and many NGOs in China and abroad, she said.