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Statement by Ambassador LIU Zhenmin at Informal Thematic Debate of the General Assembly "Climate Change As A Global Challenge"

2007-08-01 00:00

Mme. President,

Climate change is a major challenge confronting the world today. It concerns the sustainable development of all countries and our common future. If climate change affects the survival of mankind, China would no doubt be the biggest victim, given the fact that it is the most populous country in the world and a developing country with relatively low per capita income. The Chinese Government attaches great importance to addressing climate change. We believe that countries should reach consensus on the following issues:

First, to address climate change, the human society needs to change its unsustainable pattern of production which has persisted for more than 250 years since the Industrial Revolution and the unsustainable consumption pattern. The "luxury emissions" of rich countries should be restricted while the "emissions of subsistence" and "development emissions" of poor countries should be accommodated. Adapting to climate change is as important as mitigating climate change. Countries need to reinforce international cooperation from a historic and practical perspective and in a pragmatic manner.

Second, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol remain the international cooperation framework and effective mechanism for addressing climate change. The principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" and the principle of equity form the basis of international cooperation. Developed countries should shoulder in good faith their due historical and present responsibilities. At present, efforts should be made to move forward in dialogue on long-term cooperation in the context of UNFCCC. It is also necessary to ensure the success of negotiations on targets of further emission reduction by developed countries beyond 2012 within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol.

Third, efforts to address climate change should be conducive to sustainable development. For developing countries, economic development and poverty eradication are overriding priorities. In fulfilling these tasks, controlling greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the negative impact of climate change to the greatest extent will also contribute to achieving sustainable development. In promoting mitigation of climate change, the international community should take full account of the issue of adaptation to climate change and enhancing the capabilities of developing countries, small island developing countries and the least developed countries in particular, to respond to disastrous climate events.

Fourth, the key to addressing climate change lies with technological progress and establishment of production and consumption patterns that meet the requirements of sustainable development. The experience of various countries shows that technology is decisive to mitigating and adapting to climate change. The international community should not only strengthen cooperation in research, development and innovation of new technologies, but also promote dissemination and utilization of existing technologies and make them affordable and accessible to developing countries. Developed countries need to adopt policies that rise above short-sighted and narrow business interest, support early implementation of provisions of UNFCCC on transfer of technology in UNFCCC and develop effective mechanisms for transfer of technology and cooperation.

Mme. President,

The Chinese Government is fully aware of the gravity and urgency of the issue of climate change. With a high sense of responsibility for its own people, the entire human society and future generations, China has adopted a series of policies and measures to control greenhouse gas emissions and has made major progress. From 1990 to 2005, China's energy intensity went down by 47%, accounting for an accumulated emission reduction of 1.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide. From 1980 to 2005, by planting trees and protecting forests, another 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide was absorbed. Thanks to the adoption of family planning policy since the 1970s, the Chinese population is now 300 million less than that of expected, which accounts for an annual reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of 1.2 billion tons. All these achievements have not come easily and their contribution to addressing climate change is something to be reckoned with.

Early June this year, in accordance with the provisions of UNFCCC and in keeping with its own economic and social development plan and sustainable development strategy, The Chinese Government formulated and released China's National Climate Change Program (hereinafter referred to as "National Program"). A national steering team for climate change led by Chinese Premier was also established.

The National Program sets forth the guidelines, principles and objectives for China's response to climate change, puts forward mitigation and adaptation measures in priority areas and calls for saving energy, optimizing energy mix, improving ecological environment, increasing adaptability, strengthening the capacity for technological research and development, increasing public awareness and improving management mechanisms through legislative, economic, administrative and technological means.

The National Program also identifies a series of concrete tasks to control greenhouse gas emissions. They include reducing by about 20% energy consumption per unit GDP by 2010 from the level of 2005, raising the proportion of renewable energy in primary energy supply to 10%, keeping the emissions of nitrous oxide from industrial processes stable at the 2005 level and increasing forest coverage rate to 20%. The English texts of the National Program have been disseminated at the conference hall. We hope parties concerned will learn more about it and we look forward to strengthening exchanges with all parties on this issue.

Mme. President,

As a developing country, China is in the process of industrialization, urbanization and modernization. In recent years, the world public opinion has followed closely the total amount of China's carbon dioxide emissions, while neglecting the basic fact that China is home to 21% of the world population. China's per capita carbon dioxide emissions are still relatively low now, or less than one third of the average level of developed countries. The Chinese economy has maintained a momentum of steady and fast growth in recent years, but over 20 million rural people and over 22 million urban residents still live in poverty and the development of rural and urban areas and among different regions is imbalanced. To improve the living standards of its 1.3 billion people, China's "development emissions" may inevitably increase. As a major manufacturer, China's products are enjoyed by countries across the world, but China itself has to bear the mounting pressure of "transferred emissions". We hope that all parties take full note of these two factors while focusing on China's emissions.

The Chinese Government is resolved to implement a new industrialization strategy marked by low consumption, low discharge of pollutants, high efficiency and high production and hopes to receive strong support from the international community. We appeal to all parties to enhance cooperation and work together to achieve win-win progress in addressing climate change.

Thank you, Mme. President.

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