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UN official: China has "ambitious" strategy to address impact of climate change
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21:51, April 24, 2008

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Yvo de Boer, the United Nation's (UN) top climate change official, said in Beijing on Thursday that China's national climate change strategy announced last year was "ambitious" and driven by the impact of global warming.

China has a very ambitious renewable energy target, said de Boer here at the Forum on Climate Change and Science and Technology Innovation.

The country had also set ambitious goals in terms of improving industrial energy efficiency, and phasing out highly-polluting and inefficient small- and medium-sized enterprises, he said.

He said he had seen major changes in Chinese policy on climate change over the past couple of years, which he believed was "first driven by the impact of climate change".

"It is also driven by a number of other issues of economic nature, things like energy security, energy prices and air quality, which are also seriously concerned in this country," he said.

The warming climate led to "reduced rainfall, a drinking water shortage in northwest China, dramatic expansion of the desert and increases in the frequency of hot weather".

There was also scientific projection of how climate changes were going to affect China as it pointed to a 37 percent decline in the country's wheat, rice and corn yields in the second half of the century, he added.

China is facing an "integrated challenge", said de Boer, since "it is a fact that a booming economy is consuming more and more energy".

"China like most countries is really struggling to meet the target it set for itself in terms of climate change."

"The challenge or that struggle relates to translating national policies into real action on the ground, actions at the level of provinces, actions at the level of municipalities, and actions at the level of individual companies."

He said the "struggle" of China pointed to another issue, which was very much at the heart of the international negotiations. That was how to build the capacity in developing countries that would actually allow them to implement many of the policies and intentions they had.

"We really need to reach international agreements soon," he stressed. "The international community will have to put in place technological and financial incentives that could make it possible for developing countries like China to go that extra green mile.

"China is actually the country in financial terms that's benefiting from the clean development mechanism (CDM)," he said.

The CDM, based on the Kyoto Protocol, required developed countries to cooperate with developing countries on greenhouse emissions through technology transfer and financial support.

According to de Boer, the world would see an emission peak within the next 10 to 15 years. The international energy agency was calculating that over the next 25 years, the world would be investing 20 trillion U.S. dollars to meet growing world energy demand.

Scientists predicted that if the investment was made without taking climate change into account, that would push emissions up 50 percent.

He said the challenge the international community faced was how to transit into a low-carbon economy in the future.

De Boer noted the market for low-carbon energy products could be worth 500 billion U.S. dollars by mid century, which could bring new jobs and opportunities.


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