A cyclist navigates his way along frigid streets in Kashgar, in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Monday. Extreme weather appears to have hit China more frequently in recent years. Shen Qiao / Xinhua
BEIJING - With examples of extreme weather apparently becoming more common around the world, China is working on legislation to tackle climate change and guarantee the country's sustainable development.
"The legislation is at the stage where it is being prepared, assessed and where public opinion is being collected and we hope the draft will be finished by the end of 2011," said Ma Aimin, a divisional director with the department of climate change under the National Development and Reform Commission.
Ma, who is in charge of collecting those public opinions, told China Daily on Monday that people can comment between now and Sept 30 by calling 86-10-68505821, faxing 86-10-68505648 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Experts have said the draft climate change law is likely to focus on giving policy guidelines to local authorities to help them draft their future work plans and is unlikely to include specific and detailed actions.
Pan Jiahua, executive director of the Research Center for Urban Development and Environment with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily on Monday that tackling climate change is a general aim that includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting energy saving, exploring sustainable energy, embracing low-carbon lifestyles and more.
"It is difficult to cover all of those areas with solid rules of law, but laying out guidelines and aims is what really matters," Pan said.
By Monday, Ma and his team had been collecting public comments for 10 days.
Ma said people had offered all sorts of opinions on a wide range of topics, including promoting advanced technologies, enhancing public awareness of climate change and low-carbon lifestyles and controlling greenhouse gas emissions.
Yang Fuqiang, a climate change and energy expert and former director of global climate solutions at the World Wide Fund for Nature, told China Daily the law will have significant meaning that goes beyond simply guiding policies.
"China's legislation in tackling climate change is showing the world our great attention and efforts in the climate change battle," Yang said.
He noted that the law could set mandatory targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and energy saving.
With general guides on such things as tax policies and mandatory targets set down in the law, local authorities will then be able to draw up local climate change regulations to suit their own features, Yang said.
"Under the legislation, governments, companies, organizations and individuals will join the battle to fight climate change," he said.
The National People's Congress suggested drawing up regulations to tackle climate change in 2009 and the low-carbon economy became one of the top 10 issues in China for the first time in 2010, according to a report released by Renmin University of China in January.
The 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) sets goals to cut energy consumption by 16 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by 17 percent per unit of GDP from 2010 levels and slash major pollutant emissions by 8 to 10 percent.
(China Daily 03/22/2011 page3)