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China on track to hit eco-targets early

Updated: 2013-11-18 00:51
By Fu Jing in Warsaw, Poland ( China Daily)

China on track to hit eco-targets early

Environmental activists march to demand more climate-saving action during the UN's Warsaw Climate Change Conference in Poland on Saturday. China's delegation is disappointed that some countries weakened their goals to cut greenhouse gases. [WOJTEK RADWANSKI / agence france-presse ]

China may achieve its 2020 target of energy efficiency ahead of schedule and will make even more ambitious proposals to realize low-carbon development for the years after 2020, senior climate advisers have said.

They said China's non-binding plans to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon intensity in its economic output have mainly resulted from pressing domestic pressure to transform its extensive development patterns.

"China's leadership has already sensed the urgency to do so," Du Xiangwan, chair of the National Expert Committee on Climate Change, said at a news conference during the weekend before the Warsaw conference on climate change begins its second week.

This week, environmental and climate ministers may inject growing political momentum into the conference, considered a key venue for holding developed nations to their promises on finance and technology and increase global consensus and efforts to tackle climate change after 2020.

"So we come with an active and honest spirit to negotiate with international communities to address the global challenge," Du, former vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, continued. "Our domestic low-carbon development goals and international commitments go hand in hand."

Three members of Du's experts panel have arrived in Warsaw to support China's negotiation team, which has been disappointed by some developed countries' weakened goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, announced last week.

A member of the panel, former vice-minister of science and technology Liu Yanhua, said China's urgent and active approach to improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon intensity has responded well to the needs of the public.

Liu said that spirit is already embodied in reform measures announced after the Communist Party of China Central Committee concluded its third plenary session last week. "China's proactive approach to emission control has soundly responded to the public's needs of pursuing a better quality of life and the country's goal of realizing ecological civilization."

Liu also said China's active participation in the climate change conference aims to protect the interests of developing countries and vulnerable island countries, which should obtain finance and technology transfers to adapt to or mitigate the affects of climate change. Current disastrous climate effects are mainly due to the historic emissions of industrial countries, he said.

"But we should become highly aware of our growing emissions," Liu said.

Liu said China's per capita greenhouse gas emissions were just a quarter of the world's average in 1990 and reached half the world average in 2000. In 2010, China's per capita emissions surpassed the world average but were still far below those of the United States, Japan and Europe.

Facing the urgency of increasing carbon emissions and the growing frequency of extreme weather in China, Liu said, China should take the lead in international negotiations to earn more time for the country to transform economic development patterns to low-carbon and green alternatives.

He Jiankun, another member of China's experts panel on climate change, said China can achieve its goal of reducing carbon intensity in its economic output by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from its 2005 base.

"I think we can achieve that earlier than expected, and a cut of 47 percent is not a problem," said He, former vice-president of Tsinghua University. "It is also likely we could achieve a reduction of 48 to 49 percent by 2020."

He said China has made great efforts in its 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) and ongoing 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) of national development in tackling climate change.

"I think we will make even greater efforts in the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20)," he said, adding that the goal is still under discussion.

The experts did not say when China's emissions of greenhouse gases would peak.

Du said Chinese scientists are undertaking research on the matter but there are a lot of uncertainties in China's economic growth patterns and speed. "So it is difficult to calculate when the peak year will come."

However, Du said China is committed to achieving its 2020 goal of carbon intensity control. "After 2020, we may consider our internationally non-binding targets of total emission or energy consumption."

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