UN official lauds China's steps on carbon emissions
Updated: 2014-11-20 07:06
By PU ZHENDONG in Beijing(China Daily USA)
China is ramping up efforts to curb domestic carbon emissions and to bridge differences in global negotiations, a welcome sign from a "constructive leader" in climate change, the United Nations' top climate official said on Tuesday.
"Controlling greenhouse gas emissions for the world largest emitter is the equivalent of reducing coal consumption and satisfying people's expectation for cleaner air," said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, who was on a two-day visit to Beijing.
"It is to the Chinese government's credit that they have understood investing in a low-carbon development model is not just for the well-being of Chinese people, but also for the Chinese economy," Figueres told China Daily.
Beijing reaffirmed its commitment to further "de-carbonize" as well as push forward a global climate-change agreement with other partners, according to Figueres, who for the past four years has been overseeing the intergovernmental negotiations to deliver the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change.
Figueres' visit came one week after China and the United States announced a landmark agreement on their respective post-2020 actions on climate change in Beijing on the sidelines of the 2014 Economic Leaders Meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
China pledged to achieve peak carbon dioxide emissions around 2030, if not earlier, and to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20 percent by 2030. In contrast, the US vowed to reduce its emissions by 26-28 percent below its 2005 level, in 2025.
Figueres lauded the announcement as "meaningful and forward-looking", saying the remarks by the two largest economies and greenhouse- gas emitters have already reaped benefits, because it came four months earlier than expected.
"It has encouraged other countries to redouble efforts of domestic analysis on their contributions, and also on a political level, it gives a very positive tone to the upcoming negotiations," she said.
China and the US together account for roughly 42 percent of the total amount of the greenhouse gases emitted globally. Last year, a joint working group on climate change was established to address common challenges and to tap cooperation potentials.
Figueres described the actions announced in Beijing as only "part of the iceberg", and said both countries will further explain polices and measures that will underpin their contributions by March next year.
"I am fully confident that the two countries are serious and responsible enough to comply with what they put forward, which does not put them at risk but still challenges their private sectors," she said.
In early December, a new round of negotiations will begin in Lima, Peru, at the 2014 UN Climate Convention Conference, with the goal of advancing a draft agreement for adoption in Paris late next year.
In recent years, the negotiation process has suffered from serious setbacks due to sharp differences between developed and developing countries on emission-reduction responsibilities and financial support. The stagnation also induced criticism of the conferences for an alleged lack of leadership.
Figueres called on the international community to consider the conferences as "steps along the way to a solution", with each conference building on previous ones.
"We would not be on the point of having a draft agreement for Paris a whole year before Paris, had we not had successful rounds in Doha and Warsaw," she said.
The executive secretary also urged industrialized countries to help developing countries.
"Developed countries have to inject a series of capital and technical ‘know-how' into the developing countries in order to help bring the population out of poverty without leaving carbon footprints," she said.