By Xinhua Writers Li Huizi, Yuan Ye, Wang Aihua
BEIJING, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- China's top climate change negotiator said Monday that China would "do its best with utmost sincerity" to push for the success of an international mechanism that is expected to urgently address global warming.
It has been the most positive stand that the Chinese government has taken toward a United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.
Xie Zhenhua, Vice Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), told China's top legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, that China would continue international negotiations on climate change in the spirit of "being highly responsible for the survival and long-term development of mankind".
Xie is to attend the 15th conference of the parties (COP15) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from Dec. 7to Dec. 18 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Xie said China would adhere to the guidelines of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol, agreed in 1997 by most members of the international community, and the Bali Road Map of 2007, to play a constructive role in negotiations, suggesting that China might launch its own proposals for multinational negotiations.
"Talks with developing countries should be strengthened to safeguard our common interests," Xie said while delivering a report at the legislative session.
He said China would also maintain dialogue with developed countries to enhance common ground while reducing differences.
"China in the meantime firmly opposes any form of trade protectionism under the guise of tackling climate change," he said.
"Developed and developing countries are still the two major factions and the focus of disagreement remains on each country's proportion of responsibility for emissions reductions, funding andtechnology transfer."
China and other developing nations argue that developed countries should agree to cut emissions by 40 percent by 2020 from the 1990 levels.
But their demands are unlikely to be met with only the European Union promising to cut 30 percent by 2020.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act, approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in June, set a target of cutting 17 percent of greenhouse gases from the 2005 levels by 2020, which means a return to the emissions levels of 1990.
Xie said although developed nations required major developing economies to quantify their reduction of emissions, they were blamed by the latter as the main parties responsible for climate problems because of their unrestricted emissions in the course of industrialization and their per capita emissions that were still high.
Developing countries insisted that developed nations take the lead in quantifying their reductions of emissions and honor their commitments to support developing countries with funds and technology transfers, he said.
Xie said developing countries would then adopt policies and measures "tailored to national conditions" to reduce emissions "within the framework of sustainable development" and with funding and technology supports from developed nations.
Two weeks ago, the State Council, or Cabinet, decided that China would "include its strategy on climate change in its economic and social development plans" and take greenhouse gas emissions reduction and goals to adapt to climate change as "an important foundation for the government to set up medium and long-term development strategies and plans."
Xie said the country had already cut emissions of heat-trapping gases by optimizing energy structure, closing down technologically obsolete, energy-hogging, small coal-fueled power plants, developing renewable energy and nuclear power, and undertaking large-scale tree-planting programs.
As a short-term goal, China would work to meet by 2010 targets to reduce energy consumption for every 10,000 yuan (1,470 U.S. dollars) of GDP by 20 percent, raising the ratio of renewable energy to 10 percent of total energy consumption, and achieving a forest coverage of 20 percent as photosynthesis is an efficient decarbonizing method.
Xie said the country would also make great efforts toward developing a "green economy", building low-carbon projects, and assessing economic performance by how much less carbon was emitted per unit of GDP growth.
"Carbon credit trade is already being conducted in certain regions and sectors," he said.
He said efforts should be made to enhance capabilities in dealing with climate change especially in the sectors of agriculture, forestry and water resources, and in coastal or ecologically vulnerable areas.
China's fragile ecosystem was susceptible to climate change as its soil erosion was serious and its long coastline made coastal regions, including cities such as Shanghai and Xiamen, vulnerable to rising sea levels.
According to the China Meteorological Administration, if climate change was not effectively controlled, the output of major agricultural products such as wheat, rice and corn, would be reduced by 37 percent in the second half of this century and, from2010 to 2030, western China would experience water shortages of approximately 20 billion cubic meters.
Xie said, "International exchanges and cooperation to introduce advanced low-carbon technologies from other countries should be promoted."
He said China would "support underdeveloped countries and small island nations to enhance their capacity to cope with climate change."
Xie called for financial and technological support and education of the public to strengthen the overall building of capacity to deal with climate change.
He Jiankun, deputy head of the State Council's Expert Panel on Climate Change Policy, told Xinhua, "The fundamental issue is thatChina chooses the development mode that suits it best."
He, a climate and environment professor at the Beijing's Tsinghua University, said, "China will inevitably continue to consume fossil fuels in coming years in order to support its growth, which means continuous emissions of greenhouse gases.
"But China is moving very quickly in promoting the use of renewable and clean energy, and improving energy efficiency," he said.
Qi Jianguo, an economic and environmental policy researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also told Xinhua that China should stick to the principle that the country had "rights to emissions and development" when explaining its stance in tackling climate change.
Carter Brandon, an environmental official with the World Bank's Beijing office, said China had done a lot to combat the effect of greenhouse gases. For example, reforestation projects in the past two decades helped increase forest coverage in China, which is believed to help absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
NDRC stastics showed 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide was absorbed by newly planted trees from 1990 to 2005.
"However the outside world does not know enough about these," Brandon said.
The legislature's four-day meeting, usually held every two months, began Monday morning. ¡¡