Xi Jinpin: Despite what our critics say, China is serious about climate change

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The Independent Online

China has worked actively and seriously to tackle global climate change and build capacity to respond to it. We believe every country has a stake in dealing with climate change and every country has a responsibility for the safety of our planet. We're at a critical stage of building a moderately prosperous society on all fronts, and a key stage of accelerated industrialisation and urbanisation.

Yet, despite the huge task of developing the economy and improving people's lives, we have joined global actions to tackle climate change with the utmost resolve and acted in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities established by the UN. China voluntarily stepped up efforts to eliminate backward capacity in 2007, and has since closed a large number of heavily polluting small coal-fired power plants, small coal mines and enterprises in the steel, cement, paper-making, chemical and printing and dyeing sectors. Moreover, in 2009, China played a positive role in the success of the Copenhagen conference on climate change and the ultimate conclusion of the Copenhagen Accord.

In keeping with the requirements of that accord, we have provided the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change with information on China's voluntary actions on emissions reduction and joined the list of countries supporting the Copenhagen Accord.

Targets we released last year for greenhouse gas emissions control require that by 2020, CO2 emissions per unit of GDP should go down by 40 per cent – 45 per cent from the 2005 level, non-fossil energy should make up about 15 per cent of primary energy consumption, and forest coverage should increase by 40m hectares and forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters, both from the 2005 level. The measure to lower energy consumption alone will help save 620m tons of standard coal in energy consumption in the next five years, which will be equivalent to the reduction of 1.5bn tons of CO2 emissions.

This is what China has done to step up the shift in economic development mode and economic restructuring. It contributes positively to Asia's and the global effort to tackle climate change.

This an extract from the Chinese vice-president's opening remarks at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference in Hainan Province yesterday