Combating climate change: China goes offensive

Updated: 2007-10-04 11:22

International Collaborations

The per-capita emissions of greenhouse gas in China stand at 3.66 tons, less than one third the level of developed nations such as the Netherlands, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang at a press conference in late June.

As a developing country, China is not obliged to meet targets set by the Kyoto Protocol, under which most industrialized countries are required to reduce gas emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below the 1990 levels from 2008 to 2012.

Despite low per-capita emissions, Qin says, the Chinese government has placed great emphasis on climate change and has employed effective measures to cut emissions and their negative impacts.

The spokesman called on the international community to strengthen cooperation and help more countries embark on the road of clean development that both protects the environment and eco-systems and ensures the fulfillment of their development goals. 

"China is still in the process of industrialization, and has the potential to become one of the world's leaders in reducing GHG if proper technologies can be adopted before the industrial facilities are built," said Dr Jason Blackstock, a researcher at Harvard University. 

He says that developed nations should also take the responsibility to help China and other developing countries by providing the advanced technologies needed for reducing GHG through international collaborations.

Finding Alternatives To actively address the issue of climate change, China released the National Climate Change Program.

It is estimated if all the objectives prescribed in the program are achieved -- on hydro and nuclear power generation, upgrading of thermal power generation, facilitation of coal-bed-gas development, the use of renewable energy resources such as wind power, solar power and terrestrial heat, forestation and energy-saving -- the world's most populous country will emit 1.5 billion tons less carbon dioxide by 2010 while still continuing to grow rapidly.

China also issued the General Work Plan for Energy Conservation and Pollutant Discharge Reduction, under which the government pledged to adhere to its plan for energy efficiency and to reduce major pollutant discharges by 10 percent by the year 2010.

The work plan criticized some government departments for their poor awareness of the importance of energy efficiency and pollutant reduction.

The central government will reform the mechanism of evaluating local governments and their leaders by including the implementations of energy-efficiency and emission-reduction tasks into their performances, according to the work plan.

It also contains instructions to government departments to work out detailed measures for this reform. Units, branches and bodies of the central government are asked to take the lead in procuring energy-efficient, water-efficient and environment-friendly products, such as air conditioners, computers, printers and displays.

The state will encourage and direct financial institutions to enhance credit support for environment-protection and pollution-reduction projects. Preferential tax policies will be offered for such projects.

The government will also reform pricing mechanisms for resource products, such as refined oil, natural gas and electricity, and restrict exports of high-energy consuming and heavy-polluting products.

Energy use in high-energy consuming industries, such as steel, non-ferrous metals, petrochemicals and cement production, will be optimized to realize energy-saving targets.

The government has also taken action to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Non-fossil fuels will account for 30 percent of China's energy consumption in 2050, compared with the current 10 percent, says Yan Luguang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Even though China's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are lower than countries like the United States or Australia, its heavy reliance on coal makes it a major polluter and a major contributor to emissions that cause climate change.

By 2050, the burning of coal will account for a much smaller proportion in China's energy consumption compared with 70 percent now, says Yan.

Oil consumption would contribute around 20 percent of the total and reach 800 million tons in 2050, 75 percent of which would be imported from foreign countries.

As China's energy demands continue to grow, a sufficient oil supply is critical to the country's energy security.

The demand for natural gas, hydropower and nuclear power will grow and by 2050 solar energy, wind energy and biomass energy will account for 15 percent of the nation's total energy consumption. Scientific Support

Aiming for a green and hi-tech 2008 Olympics, China has designed the Olympic venues to be as environment friendly as possible, with "green" materials, and energy saving and water recycling systems.

The Olympic stadiums have also introduced solar and wind energy and other new energies, which are vital in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Ministry of Science and Technology and 14 other government departments in June jointly issued a special action plan for science and technology for China to deal with climate change, providing scientific support to the National Climate Change Program.

China invested 2.5 billion yuan (330 million U.S. dollars) in the research and development for climate change control during its 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-2005).

In the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010), says Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang, the government will invest more in this field, with 4.6 billion yuan (610 million U.S. dollars) already put into a number of projects.

The nation must consider developing a "low-carbon economy" and a "carbon-absorbing economy", says Wan. A low-carbon economy is a low energy-consuming and low pollution-based economy.

Other methods, such as optimizing energy structure, improving energy efficiency and developing clean and renewable energy, should also be taken to deal with the climate change, he says.

      1   2     

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours