Special report: Fighting
against global warming
China's National Climate Change Program (Full text)
BEIJING, June 4 (Xinhua) -- China issued a national plan on Monday to address climate change and show its
determination to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in an all round way.
Under the National Climate Change Program, the first
by a developing country, China pledges to restructure its economy, promoting
clean technologies and improving energy efficiency.
The plan is proof of China's determination to reduce
GHG emissions, said Ma Kai, minister in charge of the National Development and
But the plan does not include any quantified targets
for carbon dioxide emission.
"The absence of any quantified targets for reducing
greenhouse gas emissions does not mean China isn't serious about reducing GHG
emissions," the top economic planner told a press conference in Beijing two days
ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Germany for a G8 meeting at
which global warming will top the agenda.
China has come under increasing pressure from
industrialized economies to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions.
With the new plan, the nation has opted not to hide
behind the fact that the Kyoto Protocol does not obligate developing nations to
reduce GHG emissions.
According to the calculations by Xinhua, if all the
objectives in the program were achieved -- on hydro and nuclear power
generation, upgrading of thermal power generation, facilitation of coal-bed-gas
development, the use of renewable energy resources such as wind power, solar
power and terrestrial heat, forestation and energy-saving -- the world's most
populous country would emit 1.5 billion tons less carbon dioxide and equivalent
by 2010 while still continuing to grow rapidly.
Citing figures from the International Energy Agency,
Ma rebutted the argument that China is a "menace to the global environment".
"I don't see how China can be labeled a menace.
Compared to the industrialized countries, until recently China had low
greenhouse gas emissions and its emissions are still relatively low in per
capita terms. Rises in gross domestic product in China produce smaller hikes in
carbon dioxide discharges than in other countries. This kind of talk is grossly
exaggerated and unfair," Ma said.
China prefers to calculate GHG emissions in per
capita terms pointing out that, in 2004, its per capita carbon dioxide emissions
were 3.65 tons, compared to a world average of 4.20 tons and an average of 10.95
tons for the Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
More pertinently, China points out that a one-percent
rise in GDP leads to an average 0.6 percent increase in carbon dioxide emissions
worldwide, but the Chinese figure is only 0.38 percent.
"Even if China overtook the United States one day in
total carbon dioxide discharges, given that the former's population is five
times as much as the latter, China's per capita greenhouse gas emission would
remain low compared with the United States," Ma said.
The minister advocated a more objective methodology
to evaluate carbon dioxide emissions, pointing out that globalization had
shifted a significant amount of production to developing countries, forcing up
their energy consumption.
Ma urged the international community to respect the
developing countries right to develop, saying that China was ready to cooperate
closely with other nations to combat climate change.
The 62-page action plan details the policies and
measures China will take to mitigate and adapt itself to climate change. "By
mitigation, we mean curbing carbon dioxide emissions, emitting as little as
possible. By adaptation, we mean minimizing the negative impact of greenhouse
gases by improving our ability to forecast and prevent disasters," Ma said.
The plan says that regional cooperation on climate
change should function as "a helpful complement" to the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol rather than replacing or
The China Meteorological Administration announced
Friday that this year's Spring was the country's 11th warm Spring since 1997,
with the temperature averaging 10.6 degrees Celsius from March to May, 1.2
degrees higher than normal years and the second highest since 1951.
The National Climate Change Program notes that the
most significant temperature increases have occurred in winter with 20
consecutive warm winters from 1986 to 2005.
The sea level has risen by 2.5 mm annually along
China's coasts over the last 50 years, slightly faster than the global average.
But the nation's mountain glaciers are retreating much more rapidly.
The program warns that the risk of desertification
"Climate change is a challenge China must cope with
to realize sustainable development... Implementing a climate change containment
policy may cost a fortune, but the cost will be even higher if we delay. Early
action is imperative," Ma said.