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China to take higher-profile role in fight against climate change: Experts

By Kou Jie (People's Daily Online)    16:15, June 09, 2017

China will play a more visible role in leading the global effort to reduce carbon emissions, and is expected to offset the potential negative effects from the Trump administration’s rollback of protective measures in the U.S., experts said.

In response to the U.S. retreat from the Paris accord, Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated on June 7 that China is committed to a path of peaceful, open and green development. Xi promised to continue implementing policies that support clean energy and promote harmony between humankind and nature.

Xi’s remarks were widely interpreted by experts and media to imply that China will replace the U.S. as a leader in the charge against climate change.

“To those who stated that China’s leadership began last Thursday [when the U.S. withdrew from the Paris accord], I would say it’s irrefutably wrong, as China’s leadership on climate change goes back for quite a few years. China is the leading producer and installer of renewable energy in the world, and is certainly a country that has the compelling vision for green finance under the leadership of the Chinese Central Bank,” Christiana Figueres, the UN’s former climate change chief, told the People’s Daily Online during an interview on June 8.

According to Figueres, China’s decision to focus on emissions reductions is driven by motivation for the country to remain competitive and healthy in the future. These are strong and long-standing national interests, and China's firm stance on climate change is more than a reaction to the White House's announcement.

The great strides made by China in green industries and technologies have also led to more cooperation and business opportunities with other nations. According to statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics, the share of electricity generated by wind power rose from 0.58 percent in 2007 to 9.03 percent last year. Nuclear energy also saw a slight rise, from 1.23 percent to 2.04 percent.

Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission vice president and co-chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, told the People’s Daily Online that China and the EU are taking the lead in energy transition, and can cooperate in fields such as solar and wind energy. Clean energy cannot only generate economic benefits for both sides, but can also contribute to the global energy transition, Šefčovič pointed out.

Šefčovič also noted that the challenges for future cooperation will include how to unleash even more market forces for energy transition, how to motivate the private sector and how to accelerate the transition.

Joan MacNaughton, chair of the Climate Group board, noted that China’s future development plans contain all the right ingredients, but consistently implementing those elements at the local level may present a challenge, as China has a huge population and some cities may not tackle the issue as efficiently as others.

“At the city and provincial levels, China needs much more consistent application. Probably the emission trading scheme will help more in driving the process,” added MacNaughton. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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