A high-ranking UN official on Sunday praised China for its efforts in saving energy and called President Hu Jintao's upcoming appearance at the UN climate change summit a "strong signal" sent to the world.
Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), made the remark during an event to designate Brazilian-born supermodel Gisele Bundchen as a Goodwill Ambassador of the organization to inspire action to protect the environment.
It is part of a series of activities being held during the Global Climate Week, which coincides with the UN summit on climate change to encourage world leaders to seal a fair and effective climate deal at the UN Copenhagen conference in December.
"Just in the last few years I have seen tremendous efforts by China on energy efficiency," Steiner told China Daily, pointing to the country's policies at reducing energy usage and investing in renewable energy. He also pointed out that China has become the world's largest wind power producer this year.
According to government statistics, China is well on its way to achieving its target of cutting energy use per unit of GDP by 20 percent by 2010, which will prevent about 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.
The country's per capita greenhouse gas emissions stood at 3.58 tons in 2004.
China has also set the goal of raising the proportion of renewable energy in its total energy mix from 7 percent to 10 percent during its Five-Year Plan (2006-10).
Because of its competitiveness in renewable energy, Steiner said he believed China will benefit from a global agreement on low-carbon economy because the country has the "industries, technologies and a role to play in the global marketplace" in the years to come.
As for President Hu's attendance at the UN summit on climate change, Steiner called it "a tremendously powerful signal" because it will be the first time that a top Chinese leader addresses the UN on the environment.
"He will speak about what China is doing … In principle there will be a very powerful message from President Hu," said Steiner.
Despite the slow progress made in negotiations on climate change, Steiner expressed the hope that a final deal will be reached in Copenhagen later this year.
"The world will not forgive us if we don't make a deal," he said. "We have the science, we have the technology, we have the policies. We need courage, leadership and solidarity among nations to reach a meaning deal."
During Sunday's event, Bundchen, the face of some of the world's most exclusive products, now becomes the face of global environmental action.
As a goodwill ambassador, she will help UNEP in its mission to raise awareness about the environment.
"Together we will make a difference, and we have to take responsibility", said Bundchen to a cheering crowd. "This is our planet. It's our job as civilians to do our part. We can make it happen."