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Print Edition> World
UPDATED: December 6, 2010 NO. 49 DECEMBER 9, 2010
Taking Responsibility for Climate Change
The Cancun conference still tries to decide the future situation in dealing with emissions

GREEN HOPE: Greenpeace's hot air balloon flies over the Mayan City of Chichen Itza in Mexico's Cancun on November 28 (XINHUA)

 If developed countries cannot make decisions and take practical moves to take responsibilities and help developing countries, the tropical scenery of Cancun won't help in reaching a consensus among participating nations.

The Cancun climate change conference opened on November 29 in the Mexican coastal city. About 25,000 officials, researchers, entrepreneurs and activists from 194 countries gathered in the hope of putting together a legally binding treaty to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol.

Chinese observers believe there are still many obstacles in the way of the negotiations. They say developed countries should set a good example to developing countries on the climate change issue, because developing countries cannot take on impractical carbon emissions reductions responsibilities beyond their development level.

China's contribution and decision

China has been under heavy pressure to reduce carbon emissions in recent years. With small oil reserves but ample coal, the country traditionally maintains an energy structure of coal making up two thirds of its energy consumption, which leads to higher carbon emissions.

The developed countries only see the large amount of China's carbon emissions, but they refuse to connect it to its huge population, energy structure and development stage, said Wang Ruibin, an expert on climate change from the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS).

Wang said China's present annual carbon emissions, 6.017 billion tons, have exceeded those of the United States, which is 5.902 billion tons. It now maintains the fastest economic development speed in the world. Even if China's annual economic growth decreases to 2.8 percent, its carbon emissions will reach 11.7 billion tons by 2030, calculated at the current level.

Remaining at its present rapid industrialization and urbanization rate of development, China will accumulatively consume large amounts of energy and carbon on infrastructure facilities such as highways, railways, urban infrastructure and buildings, while developed countries have already passed this period of development.

If China stays at an annual urbanization growth rate of 1 percent, it will add 1.4 million urban residents every year. This number is equal to the population of a mid-sized European country. But, Wang said, unlike developed countries' life styles, most of China's carbon emissions generally are in accordance with their basic needs, a big difference to developed countries' waste.

Carbon emissions are an essential condition of human production, and maintaining proper carbon emissions is one of humanity's basic living rights.

China has never tried to shed the carbon emissions reduction responsibilities it should undertake, but meanwhile, it cannot make promises overreaching its ability to deal with the issue. In November 2009, China promised to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, while increasing the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 15 percent by 2020.

Xie Zhenhua, Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said great efforts had been made by China in energy saving and greenhouse gas emissions reductions in recent years.

During the 11th Five-Year (2005-10) Plan period, China's investment in energy-saving and emissions-reduction projects reached about 2 trillion yuan ($301 billion), among which more than 200 billion yuan ($30 billion) came from the Chinese Government, say NDRC statistics.

Xie said it was likely China has cut emissions of carbon dioxide by about 1.5 billion tons because of energy-saving and emissions-reduction investments during the 2005-10 period. "The size of emissions reduction is greater than any other country in the world," he said. "This is China's contribution to preventing global climate change."

China will resort to legal, technical and financial measures for greater progress in energy saving and emissions reduction over the next five years, Xie said. China would make energy savings increasingly compulsory for enterprises, instead of simply persuading them to do so. Strict evaluation systems would be established and laws would be enforced to make enterprises accountable for goals of energy saving and emissions reduction.

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