Sustainable growth is good business

Updated: 2014-04-22 08:40

By Connie Hedegaard (China Daily)

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As two of the world's biggest economies, China and the European Union are facing similar challenges: How to make sure that economic growth brings a better quality of life for our citizens and not polluted air and water? How to make our economies less dependent on foreign energy imports? And how to grow without wrecking the climate?

We have been asking ourselves these questions in the EU and have decided to follow a sustainable path as part of the solution.

We have binding targets for emissions reductions and share of renewable energy, a price on carbon, and energy efficiency measures up to 2020. And we will adopt an ambitious 2030 target later this year, along with more renewables and energy efficiency measures.

These policies are underpinned by our emissions trading system (ETS), which puts a price on carbon and caps emissions from 11,000 power stations and heavy industrial installations responsible for 40 percent of the EU's total emissions.

It is a similar system to the one that China is currently setting up. We have started a cooperation project with China on emissions trading this year and it is a very good example of how we can work together to fight climate change.

We in Europe are reducing our emissions not only because we face a major climate challenge, as the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports show, but also because the transition to a low-carbon global economy presents a huge opportunity to stimulate growth by building dynamic new industries based on innovative clean technologies and clean energy.

The green sector is one of the fastest growing industries with millions of new jobs being created.

China is a good example that the "grow now, clean up later" is no longer an option. In other words, "pollution is the nature's red-light warning against inefficient and blind development" as Premier Li Keqiang put it recently.

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