Statement by H.E. Mr. XIE Zhenhua
Minister and Vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission
of the People’s Republic of China
at the joint High-Level Segment of COP14 and CMP4
December 11, 2008
Honourable Mr. President, Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen:
At the outset, on behalf of the Government of China, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Government of Poland for the efforts it has made for this conference. The Chinese Delegation fully associates itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the G77 and China.
Climate change is a great challenge to the global sustainable development, with implications for the survival of mankind and the development of each country. It requires cooperative and proactive actions by the international community.
The Government of China attaches great importance to the issue of climate change. We have taken a series of strong policies, measures and actions to address climate change and have made remarkable achievements. The Government of China issued the National Climate Change Program last year, and released the White Paper on “China’s Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change” last October. The White Paper has given a comprehensive account of the progress we have made in the implementation of the National Climate Change Program. Let me cite a few figures in this regard:
In 2007, China’s per-unit GDP energy consumption dropped by 3.66% compared with 2006. From January to September 2008, it fell further by 3.46%. In 2006 and 2007, by improving energy efficiency and restructuring its economy, China avoided CO2 emissions by 335 million tons.
In 2007, my country shut down small thermal power generation units with a combined installed capacity of 14.38 GW, phased out 84 million tons of backward steelmaking and iron-smelting capacity and 52 million tons of cement production capacity, and closed down 2,322 small coal mines. In the first nine months of 2008, another 14.58 GW of small thermal power generating units was decommissioned. All those measures have significantly reduced GHG emissions.
In 2008, hydropower in China has an installed capacity of 164 GW, followed by wind power with 10 GW, and the photovoltaic power with 120 MW. We have also installed 130 million M2 of solar energy panel. In 2007 alone, just the utilization of renewable energy contributed to an emission reduction of 500 million tons of CO2.
Equally in 2007, the Government of China allocated 48 billion yuan from the national budget to energy conservation and environmental protection, and another 4 trillion yuan will be spent in the upcoming two years to boost the domestic demand, including investments in energy conservation, energy efficiency improvement, renewable energy development and environmental protection, as part of its efforts to tackle climate change and the financial crisis at the same time.
China has always played an active and constructive role in promoting international cooperation to address climate change, and has proposed several initiatives concerning financing, technology transfer, adaptation, and forest. Last month, my government, in collaboration with UN, hosted the Beijing High-level Conference on Climate Change: Technology Development and Technology Transfer, which adopted the Beijing Statement, including a proposal on the establishment of “a new and innovative mechanism for international cooperation in all stages of the development and deployment of technologies”.
China is firmly committed to tackling climate change. But it is a developing country with a per-capita GDP of just over US$ 2000. There are still 15 million people in the countryside who still live in absolute poverty, and 22 million urban citizens still rely on social welfare to satisfy their basic needs. For us, poverty alleviation and improving people’s livelihood still constitute the biggest challenge. Although it has already paid huge social and economic costs for addressing climate change, China will continue with its efforts to change its development pattern and develop low-carbon economy in order to follow a pathway of sustainable development characterized by higher technology input, higher returns, lower resource consumption, less pollution and more recycling
The international climate negotiations have reached a critical stage. This conference is a very important midterm stop on our way to Copenhagen. The decisions we are about to take here will have major impact on future generations. I hereby would like to put forward three propositions.
Firstly, we must adhere to the principles and safeguard the consensus. The UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol are documents reflecting global consensus and constitute the basic legal framework for addressing climate change. Only by sticking to the principles of the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, working toward their full, effective and sustained implementation, and by moving our negotiations forward along the dual tracks spelled out in the Bali Road Map, can we expect to reach a fair and effective agreed outcome in Copenhagen. Any attempts to deviate from, breach or re-define the Convention, or to deny the Kyoto Protocol, or to merge the Convention process with the Kyoto Protocol process, will be detrimental, and will ultimately lead to a fruitless Copenhagen Conference.
Secondly, we should adopt a down-to-earth approach and work towards steady progress. Our shared vision is the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, so as to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention. We should set off from where we are, and move to turn the shared vision for long-term cooperative action into practical and concrete actions. In this regard, developed countries should take the lead in reducing their GHG emissions, strictly fulfil their emission reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol for the first commitment period, and make further deep cut their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25-40% below 1990 level by 2020. Meanwhile, developed countries should also fulfil their commitments under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol supporting developing countries with financial resources, capacity building and the transfer of technology. For their part, developing countries will also take positive and effective mitigation and adaptation measures in the context of sustainable development and with the support of developed countries,
Thirdly, we should remain confident and confront difficulties with courage. At present, the wide spread of global financial crisis has severely affected the economic development of every country and lives of their people. But compared with that crisis, climate change is presenting us with a far more severe and long-lasting challenge. Therefore, we must not waver in our determination to address climate change and our actions must not slow down. We should leverage the increasing investment on climate change as one of the solutions to the current financial crisis, thus turning a challenge into opportunity. Developed countries should not use financial crisis as an excuse to evade their commitments under the Convention the Protocol, and the Bali Roadmap. Developing countries should also actively address climate change while working for economic development and poverty eradication. A win-win solution can be found for climate protection and development.
The Chinese delegation will, in the spirit of sincere cooperation, work together with all other parties in a constructive and genuine spirit of cooperation to make this conference, and indeed the conference in Copenhagen, a success.
Thank you, Mr. President.