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China remains dedicated to pushing for success of UN climate conference: minister

Updated: Dec 10,2018 9:40 PM     Xinhua

KATOWICE — China remains dedicated to playing a constructive role in pushing for a successful outcome of the ongoing United Nations (UN) climate conference, seen as a crucial step to tackle climate challenges, Chinese Ecology and Environment Minister Li Ganjie has said.

Speaking in an interview with Xinhua ahead of the conference in Poland, Li said the success of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be significant in boosting the confidence of the international community in fighting climate change and shaping the future of global climate governance.

“Largely, the various parties have voiced their wishes for the timely conclusion of the negotiations on the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement,” he said. “We hope all parties will strengthen their confidence, try to get closer to each other and make joint efforts for the success of the Katowice climate conference.”

The two-week conference, which runs until Dec 14, aims to finalize the implementation guidelines and provide clarity on how to carry out the Paris deal fairly for all participating countries.

Li met with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), among others, while attending the conference.

China established the new Ministry of Ecology and Environment earlier this year to tackle climate change and the protection of water, land and air.

The minister said that proactively addressing climate change has been China’s major strategy in its economic and social development, and that it is seen as an important opportunity to speed up the process of transforming its economic development model and adjusting its economic structure. China is also adopting the greenhouse emission reduction goals and making binding goals part of its medium and long-term plans.

China will also make various efforts such as adjusting its industrial structure, optimizing its energy consumption and improving its energy efficiency in its pursuit of “green, low-carbon sustainable growth,” Li said.

Thanks to increased investment in green energy, China’s carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product, in 2017 declined by 46 percent from the level in 2005, meeting the target ahead of schedule of a 40-45 percent drop by 2020, Li said.

China has made significant progress in optimizing its energy sources with the proportion of coal consumption dropping 12 percent by 2017 from 72 percent in 2005 and non-fossil energy consumption rising to 13.8 percent, Li noted.

China ranks first in the world in clean energy investment with rapid growth of wind and solar energy in nine consecutive years, Li said.

Meanwhile, China is using a market mechanism in pushing for low-carbon development, Li said, adding that a nationwide carbon emissions trading system has been launched in December 2017.

China’s carbon trading value hit over 6 billion yuan (about $860 million) since June 2013, with carbon emissions declining both in intensity and amount in the pilot carbon trading areas, according to statistics from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

China has been the world’s largest new energy vehicles (NEV) market for three consecutive years, with some 777,000 NEVs sold in 2017 alone. Tax exemptions and purchase subsidies are offered in many regions to encourage the use of NEVs to ease pressure on the environment.

China is also taking solid actions to help developing countries deal with climate challenges through South-South cooperation, Li said.

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment has joined other ministries to issue guidelines on promoting green development along the Belt and Road, a development initiative aimed at promoting shared economic prosperity through enhanced infrastructural connectivity.

“We will in the future further promote the South-South cooperation on climate change and green development along the Belt and Road, and contribute more to the efforts to address climate change and building a community with a shared future for mankind,” Li said.

In 2015 China has pledged a package of $3.1 billion to the South-South Cooperation Fund on Climate Change for developing countries.

Since 2011, China has offered equipment including LED lights, energy efficient refrigerators and solar photovoltaic systems and provided such programs as training, mitigation and adaptation related to climate change for developing nations, including the least developed countries, small island countries and African countries, Li said.