Carbon-cut target a 'milestone'

By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-28 07:24

A high-ranking United Nations official said China's decision to make a 40 to 45 percent cut in carbon intensity by 2020 is "a milestone" leading up to the Copenhagen summit, which opens Dec 7.

On Friday, UN Development Program (UNDP) administrator Helen Clark downplayed the potential of the Copenhagen summit, predicting that leaders will have a tough time reaching a global alliance next month.

Carbon-cut target a 'milestone'
Helen Clark

She urged closer cooperation in mitigating climate change between China and the UN in a speech she made in Beijing on Friday at the 30th anniversary celebration of her organization's presence in China.

"The Chinese government's decision is more of a milestone announcement on the way to Copenhagen and it is one of the big moves forward," Clark said in her remarks at the ceremony.

But she is cautious about the outcome of the Copenhagen summit.

"It may be difficult to reach a high-quality, new climate agreement in Copenhagen," said Clark. "But such a deal is urgently needed."

Clark did not elaborate on her statement.

Premier Wen Jiabao held talks with Clark on Thursday when China announced its plans to reduce carbon intensity by 2020.

Clark said the UN will strengthen cooperation with China in tackling climate change, together with reducing poverty and increasing the country's global presence.

"Three such areas in particular merit attention but the first is tackling climate change," Clark said. "This is one of the most pressing development challenges our world faces."

She expressed delight that UNDP and China are already working closely together as China takes steps towards becoming a lower-carbon economy.

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Experts estimate that by 2030, some 350 million more people will live in Chinese cities as compared to 2005. "Accommodating them presents a unique opportunity to build green, urban communities from the start," Clark said.

UNDP was one of China's first development partners after the 1978 reform and opening up. Khalid Malik, UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative in China, described the evolution of UNDP's work in China since 1979, stressing that it has been "complementary to the government's changing development goals and priorities".

Chen Zhili, vice-chairwoman of the 11th Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and President of the All-China Women's Federation, said at the event: "The partnership between China and UNDP has greatly contributed to the progress of China's social and economic development."