COPENHAGEN: As challenging as it is serious, climate change is not only clamoring for global attention, but also for global action.
Despite its tremendous need for development, China, the world's largest developing country, has taken unprecedented efforts in recent years to address the global issue.
From the closure of "Five Kinds of Small Plants" producing steel, iron and cement, to underlining "ecological civilization" in the 17th CPC Congress Report and publishing "China's National Climate Change Program," these concrete actions demonstrate the determination of the Chinese government to do something to about climate change.
CONSTRUCTING ECOLOGICAL CIVILIZATION
In October 2007, Chinese President Hu Jintao, also CPC general secretary, declared in his report to the 17th CPC congress that China will work to construct "ecological civilization," signifying a new beginning for China's environmental protection.
Henri Proglio, chairman and CEO of the Veolia Environment, commented that it is quite encouraging for China to raise the concept of "ecological civilization," and through this declaration, China has raised the importance of environmental protection to an unprecedented level.
Published in June 2007, "China's National Climate Change Program," the country's first policy document and first national proposal among all developing nations, comprehensively lists the initiatives to combat climate change before 2010.
Additionally, October 2008 saw the publication of "China's Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change," which addresses the impact of climate change on China, China's policies and actions, as well as its efforts to cope with global warming.
These efforts indicate great determination on China's part, while the country is facing the dual task of promoting economic growth on the one hand while transforming its growth mode on the other -- all this amidst the global financial crisis.
As stipulated in the "11th Five-Year Plan," China's unit GDP energy consumption will be reduced by 20 percent till 2010. According to statistics from the National Development and Reform Commission, out of the entire 4,000 billion yuan (US$585.7 billion) investment, 210 billion yuan (US$30.7 billion) will be allocated to energy conservation and ecological construction, while 370 billion yuan (US$54.18 billion) will be allocated to independent innovation and industrial structure adjustment. Meanwhile, proposed and approved by the state council, related instructions are also detailed in the stimulus package for 10 sectors.
China is demonstrating its commitment to sustainable development with an even stronger heart to the world.
According to the official data issued by the National Leading Group Office for Climate Change and Energy Conservation of the State Council on June 5, China's unit GDP energy consumption has been reduced by 10.1 percent from 2005 to 2007, the first three years of the "11th Five-Year Plan," which equals 750 million tons reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
The road towards these accomplishments has been bumpy, fraught with various of difficulties during the past thirty years of rapid economic growth.
During the "11th Five-Year Plan," over 1,000 billion yuan will be added to increase investment in energy conservation and emission reduction. Small thermal plants have been shut down. Furthermore, backward production facilities producing about 250 million tons of cement and 150 tons of steel and iron have been closed.
On November 26, China announced that it was going to reduce the intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP in 2020 by 40 to 45 percent compared with the level of 2005.
Realizing these targets requires not only willingness but also courage to face China's harsh realities. China still has 150 million poor and an economy that is waiting to be developed to improve people's living standard and promote industrialization.
However, realizing the urgency and significance to contain climate change, these difficulties will not hinder China's pursuit to be a responsible member of the international community.
CLIMATE CHANGE, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
To seek low carbon and green economy, we need to develop new energy and advocate new spending patterns.
According to research by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, reducing one ton of sulfuric dioxide will lead to 38 tons reduction of carbon dioxide. Thus, about 250 million tons of carbon dioxide will be cut with the completion of the task in the "11th Five-Year Plan," which requires a 10-percent decrease in sulfuric dioxide, roughly 6.7 million tons.
Reductions of two major pollutants have been steadfast. In 2008, the discharged chemical oxygen demand (COD) and sulfuric dioxide have been reduced by 6.61 percent and 8.95 percent respectively, compared to that of 2005. While in the first six months of 2009, the two indexes fell by 2.46 percent and 5.4 percent against that of the same period in 2008.
Apart from this, China has been committed to tree-planting, ecological industrial park establishment, raising public awareness of environmental protection, as well as national park and wetland construction.
Environmental degradation is endangering China's domestic development. For sustainable development to be achieved, great emphasis should be played on protecting the environment and combating climate change to fulfill the responsibility to both China and the world at large.