China boosts climate efforts

Updated: 2014-09-24 12:37

By Zhang Yuwei at the United Nations(China Daily USA)

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 China boosts climate efforts

Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the UN Climate Change Summit in New York on Tuesday. Mike Segar / Reuters

China will continue to share international responsibilities to address the climate change issue, including making more of an effort to peak greenhouse gas levels and increasing financial help to a South-South cooperation fund, said a senior Chinese leader at the United Nations Climate Change Summit on Tuesday.

"We will announce post-2020 actions on climate change as soon as we can, which will bring about marked progress in reducing carbon intensity, increasing the share of non-fossil fuels and raising the forest stock," said Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli in New York.

The action plan will also take China - the world's most populous and largest developing country - to the peak of its total CO2 emissions as early as possible, said Zhang.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping's climate change envoy, Zhang said the world's No 2 economy is ready to work with other countries on combating this global issue.

"This is not at others' request but on our own initiative," he said.

Observers say that Zhang's speech sent a promising sign, which showed China's continuing commitment to this issue.

"China's remarks at the Climate Summit go further than ever before," said Jennifer Morgan, director of climate and energy programs at Washington-based World Resources Institute. "Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli's announcement to strive to peak emissions 'as early as possible' is a welcome signal for the cooperative action we need for the Paris Agreement."

Beijing's efforts in reducing CO2 emissions have seen noticeable results.

By the end of 2013, China had already cut the carbon intensity by 28.5 percent, equivalent to 2.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions, from 2005 levels. Furthermore, the country had set a voluntary target to reduce carbon intensity by 40-to-45 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.

"Peaking emissions is vital to curb climate change and to rein in dangerous air pollution," said Morgan.

Zhang said an international agreement reached at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference in Paris next year should "uphold common but differentiated responsibilities" for developed and developing countries.

"All countries need to follow a path of green and low-carbon development that suits their national conditions," he said.

Expressing China's support to the UN's commitment to combat climate change, Zhang said China will double its annual financial help for the establishment of the South-South Cooperation Fund on Climate Change over the next year.

"China will provide $6 million to support the UN Secretary General in advancing South-South cooperation on climate change," he said.

"China's collaboration with other countries to advance low carbon development should inspire other countries as they outline their climate commitments in the coming months.China's focus on South-South cooperation is particularly important in building trust," said Morgan.

Speaking before Zhang at the same session, US President Barack Obama said US and China have a "special responsibility" to lead efforts in tackling climate change as the world's two largest economies.

"We have a responsibility to lead," Obama said. "That's what big nations have to do."

Obama and Zhang met on the sidelines of the summit before they made their speeches.

"The strong back-to-back statements by the two largest emitters send a clear signal that both countries will work seriously to put in place climate solutions domestically and reach an ambitious international agreement in Paris next year," Morgan said.

(China Daily USA 09/24/2014 page1)