China's emission reduction pledge and global response

16:19, August 06, 2010      

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The third round of the United Nations climate talks this year, which is scheduled for August 2 to 6, has attracted 4,500 participants from government, business and environmental organizations and research institutions from nearly 190 countries. And they have debated on a new negotiating text and continued to prepare the ground for the year-end ministerial-level conference to be held in Cancun, Mexico.

The core of the current UN Climate Talks is that developed nations should take on their historical, legal and moral responsibilities for climate change. The developed nations, however, are still unwilling or not ready to assume responsibilities on such core issues as their specific emission targets and the Kyoto Protocol extension, and so prospects for the negotiation are not so optimistic. The reality is in drastic contrast with China's redoubled effort to advance the talks for reducing global greenhouse gases emission and spurring the climate change negotiations.

Concerning the self-emissions reduction pledge, China's reduction speed and levels of the per-unit GDP carbon dioxide (CO2) emission have been among the highest in the world. Between 1990 and 2020, the emissions for the global carbon dioxide, or energy CO2 unit GDP, was down 15.4 percent, and that in the United States fell 27 percent, in developed nations declined by 22 percent on average, in developing countries by of 10.2 percent on average, and in China by 49.2 percent.

On the commitment for the future carbon emissions reduction, China has pledged to cut the unit GDP carbon dioxide emission level in 2020 by a range of 40 percent to 45 percent over 2005. In the historical process of industrialization for developed nations, not a single country has so far been able to realize such a high-intensity reduction target as China within 15 years.

In the realm of actively impelling global emission reduction and climate change negotiations, China has so far obtained the clean development mechanism (CDM) project the UN had released, which is to reduce 48.35 percent of global total emissions in this regard. Meanwhile, China's solar panels and wind power equipment exports are also in the front rank of countries across the world. All the attainments in this regard have contributed markedly to the total world emissions reduction.

Of late, Western nations have clamored and hubbubed in citing China as the world's largest energy consumer and the biggest greenhouse gases emitter. As a matter of course, China is the world's most populous nation, which is midst the phase for rapid industrialization and urbanization development; it definitely needs a large accumulation of energy and carbon, such as roads, highways, railways, urban infrastructure facilities and residential buildings, whereas the developed nations have already completed this great historical process.

China's per-capita consumption propped up by energy consumption and carbon emissions are currently still at the moderate, self-sufficient levels, while carbon emissions for the majority of people in China are merely to meet their basic, primary needs. Even if the country is really going to be the world's top energy consumer shortly, its per-capita consumption would still be far lesser than those of developed nations.

In addition, China has been turned into a world factory in the course of international industrial transfer, products turned out in China with much carbon emissions are not for people in China to consume themselves but for exporting to developed nations, which have already chalked up a very high carbon consumption rate. This is something that should merit people's attention globally.

If the current climate change talks have to be substantial, developed nations should genuinely face up to their historical, legal and moral responsibilities, take the lead to substantially cut greenhouse gases emission and to live up to the goal of reducing emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 on the 1990 level. And the target below this goal, however, will impede the process of global climate change negotiations.

By People's Daily Online and its author is PD sub-desk editor Xin Benjian


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