In the battle against climate change, the principle of common but different responsibility is one of the cornerstones of sustainable development. China has endorsed the principle, which is enshrined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.
The principle of common but different responsibilities -- the idea that richer countries should bear a greater share of the burden than the poor in tackling climate change -- was determined 20 years ago in Rio de Janeiro. China has always maintained that the principle should be followed and that developed nations should take the lead in reducing their emissions.
Jia Feng, director general of Center for Environmental Education and Communication, said, "Developed countries account for 80% of the total global carbon emissions since the industrial revolution more than 200 years ago. If we agree that carbon emissions are the direct cause of climate change, then it is all too clear who should take primary responsibility."
Under the Kyoto Protocol, China is not required to limit greenhouse gas emissions. This sparked controversy, given that China has now become the world's top polluter.
Jia said, "Developing countries only started industrialization a few decades ago. It is unjustified to ask them to undertake emission reduction targets beyond their due capabilities in disregard to historic responsibilities, per capita emissions and different levels of development."
The 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) adopted by the Chinese Government in March last year devotes considerable attention to energy and climate change and establishes a new set of targets and policies. Key targets include a 16 percent reduction in energy intensity and a 17 percent reduction in carbon intensity.
(CNTV.cn June 21, 2012)