|Build Consensus and Strengthen Cooperation To Advance the Historical Process of Combating Climate Change|
Address by H.E. Wen Jiabao
Prime Minister Rasmussen,
At this very moment, billions of people across the world are following closely what is happening here in Copenhagen. The will that we express and the commitments that we make here should help push forward mankind's historical process of combating climate change. Standing at this podium, I am deeply aware of the heavy responsibility.
Climate change is a major global challenge. It is the common mission of the entire mankind to curb global warming and save our planet. It is incumbent upon all of us, each and every country, nation, enterprise and individual to act, and act now in response to this challenge.
The past 30 years have seen remarkable progress in China's modernization drive. Let me share with you here that China has taken climate change very seriously in the course of its development. Bearing in mind the fundamental interests of the Chinese people and mankind's long-term development, we have exerted unremitting effort and made positive contribution to the fight against climate change.
- China was the first developing country to adopt and implement a National Climate Change Program. We have formulated or revised the Energy Conservation Law, Renewable Energy Law, Circular Economy Promotion Law, Clean Production Promotion Law, Forest Law, Grassland Law and Regulations on Civil Building Efficiency. Laws and regulations have been an important means for us to address climate change.
- China has made the most intensive efforts in energy conservation and pollution reduction in recent years. We have improved the taxation system and advanced the pricing reform of resource products with a view to putting in place at an early date a pricing mechanism that is responsive to market supply and demand, resource scarcity level and the cost of environmental damage. We have introduced 10 major energy conservation projects and launched an energy conservation campaign involving 1,000 enterprises, bringing energy-saving action to industry, transportation, construction and other key sectors. We have implemented pilot projects on circular economy, promoted energy-saving and environment-friendly vehicles and supported the use of energy-saving products by ordinary households with government subsidies. We have worked hard to phase out backward production facilities that are energy intensive and heavily polluting. The inefficient production capacity that China eliminated between 2006 and 2008 stood at 60.59 million tons for iron, 43.47 million tons for steel, 140 million tons for cement and 64.45 million tons for coke. By the end of the first half of this year, China's energy consumption per unit of GDP had dropped by 13% from the 2005 level, equivalent to reducing 800 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
- China has enjoyed the fastest growth of new energy and renewable energy. On the basis of protecting the eco-environment, we have developed hydro power in an orderly way, actively developed nuclear power, and encouraged and supported the development of renewable energy including biomass, solar and geothermal energy and wind power in the countryside, remote areas and other places with the proper conditions. Between 2005 and 2008, renewable energy increased by 51%, representing an annual growth rate of 14.7%. In 2008, the use of renewable energy reached an equivalent of 250 million tons of standard coal. A total of 30.5 million rural households gained access to bio-gas, equivalent to a reduction of 49 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. China ranked first in the world in terms of installed hydro power capacity, nuclear power capacity under construction, the coverage of solar water heating panels and photovoltaic power capacity.
- China has the largest area of man-made forests in the world. We have continued with the large-scale endeavor to return farmland to forest and expand afforestation, and made vigorous effort to increase forest carbon sink. Between 2003 and 2008, China's forest coverage registered a net increase of 20.54 million hectares and forest stock volume rose by 1.123 billion cubic meters. The total area of man-made forests in China has reached 54 million hectares, the largest in the world.
China has a 1.3 billion population and its per capita GDP has only exceeded US$3,000. According to the UN standards, we still have 150 million people living below the poverty line and we therefore face the arduous task of developing the economy and improving people's livelihood. China is now at an important stage of accelerated industrialization and urbanization, and, given the predominant role of coal in our energy mix, we are confronted with special difficulty in emission reduction. However, we have always regarded addressing climate change as an important strategic task. Between 1990 and 2005, China's carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP were reduced by 46%. Building on that, we have set the new target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% by 2020 from the 2005 level. To reduce carbon dioxide emissions on such a large scale and over such an extended period of time will require tremendous efforts on our part. Our target will be incorporated into China's mid- and long-term plan for national economic and social development as a mandatory one, and its implementation is subject to the supervision by law and public opinion. We will further enhance domestic statistical, monitoring and evaluation methods, improve the way for releasing emission reduction information, increase transparency and actively engage in international exchanges, dialogue and cooperation.
To meet the climate challenge, the international community must strengthen confidence, build consensus, make vigorous effort and enhance cooperation. And we must always adhere to the following principles:
First, maintain the consistency of outcomes. The campaign against climate change has not just started. In fact, the international community has been engaged in this endeavor for decades. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol are the outcomes of long and hard work by all countries. They reflect the broad consensus among all parties and serve as the legal basis and guide for international cooperation on climate change. And as such, they must be highly valued and further strengthened and developed. The outcome of this conference must stick to rather than obscure the basic principles enshrined in the Convention and the Protocol. It must follow rather than deviate from the mandate of the "Bali Roadmap". It must lock up rather than deny the consensus and progress already achieved in the negotiations.
Second, uphold the fairness of rules. The principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" represents the core and bedrock of international cooperation on climate change, and it must never be compromised. Developed countries account for 80% of the total global carbon dioxide emissions since the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago. If we all agree that carbon dioxide emissions are the direct cause for climate change, then it is all too clear who should take the primary responsibility. Developing countries only started industrialization a few decades ago and many of their people still live in abject poverty today. It is totally unjustified to ask them to undertake emission reduction targets beyond their due obligations and capabilities in disregard of historical responsibilities, per capita emissions and different levels of development. Developed countries, which are already leading an affluent life, still maintain a level of per capita emissions that is far higher than that of developing countries, and most of their emissions are attributed to consumption. In comparison, emissions from developing countries are primarily survival emissions and international transfer emissions. Today, 2.4 billion people in the world still rely on coal, charcoal and stalks as main fuels, and 1.6 billion people have no access to electricity. Action on climate change must be taken within the framework of sustainable development and should by no means compromise the efforts of developing countries to get rid of poverty and backwardness. Developed countries must take the lead in making deep quantified emission cuts and provide financial and technological support to developing countries. This is an unshirkable moral responsibility as well as a legal obligation that they must fulfill. Developing countries should, with the financial and technological support of developed countries, do what they can to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change in the light of their national conditions.
Third, pay attention to the practicality of targets. There is a Chinese proverb which goes, "A one-thousand-mile journey starts with the first step." Similarly, there is a saying in the West which reads, "Rome was not built in one day." In tackling climate change, we need to take a long-term perspective, but more importantly, we should focus on the present. The Kyoto Protocol has clearly set out the emission reduction targets for developed countries in the first commitment period by 2012. However, a review of implementation shows that the emissions from many developed countries have increased rather than decreased. And the mid-term reduction targets recently announced by developed countries fall considerably short of the requirements of the Convention and the expectations of the international community. It is necessary to set a direction for our long-term efforts, but it is even more important to focus on achieving near-term and mid-term reduction targets, honoring the commitments already made and taking real action. One action is more useful than a dozen programs. We should give people hope by taking credible actions.
Fourth, ensure the effectiveness of institutions and mechanisms. Concrete actions and institutional guarantee are essential to our effort on tackling climate change. The international community should make concrete and effective institutional arrangements under the Convention and urge developed countries to honor their commitments, provide sustained and sufficient financial support to developing countries, speed up the transfer of climate-friendly technologies and effectively help developing countries, especially small island states, least developed countries, landlocked countries and African countries, strengthen their capacity in combating climate change.
I wish to conclude by underlining that it is with a sense of responsibility to the Chinese people and the whole mankind that the Chinese government has set the target for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. This is a voluntary action China has taken in the light of its national circumstances. We have not attached any condition to the target, nor have we linked it to the target of any other country. We will honor our word with real action. Whatever outcome this conference may produce, we will be fully committed to achieving and even exceeding the target.