Ex­pert: China a leader in new en­ergy, car­bon emis­sions re­duc­tion

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By HOU LIQIANG in Ka­tow­ice, Poland [email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

China tops the world in its ef­fort to re­duce car­bon emis­sions, de­spite the enor­mous chal­lenges it faces as a highly pop­u­lated de­vel­op­ing coun­try, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior Chi­nese climate change ex­pert.

He Jiankun, deputy pres­i­dent of China’s Na­tional Ex­pert Com­mit­tee on Climate Change, made the com­ment on Tues­day on the side­lines of the on­go­ing 24th Con­fer­ence of Par­ties to the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Climate Change, or COP 24, in Ka­tow­ice, Poland.

“China sur­passes other coun­tries in car­bon emis­sions, as it is large not only eco­nom­i­cally but also in ter­ri­tory and pop­u­la­tion. The coun­try, how­ever, is mak­ing great ef­forts in trans­form­ing its en­ergy struc­ture and it tops other coun­tries in the growth of new and re­new­able en­er­gies,” He said.

China has the largest hy­dro­elec­tric, wind and so­lar power gen­er­at­ing ca­pac­i­ties in the world and also leads all coun­tries in an­nual growth of those three types of en­ergy. The coun­try’s in­vest­ment in new en­ergy, the largest in the world, is still ex­pand­ing at un­par­al­leled speed, he said.

By the end of last year, China’s re­new­able en­ergy gen­er­at­ing ca­pac­ity had reached 650 mil­lion kilo­watts, up by 14 per­cent yearon-year. A to­tal of 1.6 tril­lion kilo­watt-hours of hy­dro­elec­tric, wind and so­lar power were gen­er­ated in the coun­try last year, ac­cord­ing to China’s Pol­icy and Ac­tions for Ad­dress­ing Climate Change (2018).

On av­er­age, the world is see­ing its car­bon in­ten­sity — emis­sions per unit of GDP — de­crease by no more than 2 per­cent a year, half the rate of China. China’s de­crease in car­bon in­ten­sity is much faster than that of de­vel­oped coun­tries, He said.

China’s car­bon in­ten­sity last year was 46 per­cent lower than in 2005, ful­fill­ing China’s goal to cut car­bon emis­sions by 40 to 45 per­cent by 2020. The coun­try plans to fur­ther cut emis­sions to lower the in­ten­sity by 60 to 65 per­cent and in­crease the ra­tio of en­ergy from non­fos­sil fuel in the na­tional en­ergy struc­ture to 20 per­cent by 2030.

He also said the coun­try is ex­pected to sell 1 mil­lion to 1.5 mil­lion elec­tric cars this year, which is more than half the world’s to­tal sales of such ve­hi­cles.

China has pro­duced th­ese huge achieve­ments even though it faces greater chal­lenges than de­vel­oped coun­tries in re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions, he said.

“As a de­vel­op­ing coun­try, we must co­or­di­nate our ef­forts to pro­mote sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and tackle climate change. We have to im­prove peo­ple’s liveli­hoods by de­vel­op­ing the economy. Mean­while, we have to try to lower the car­bon in­ten­sity,” he said.

With other en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges ad­dressed, how­ever, the de­vel­oped coun­tries, which have achieved broad mod­ern­iza­tion, are able to — and also should — have their ef­forts fo­cused on car­bon re­duc­tion, he said.

Many coun­tries have been ex­pect­ing China to play a lead­ing role in curb­ing climate change now that the United States has with­drawn from the Paris agree­ment. “But to play a lead­ing role doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean that China should do some­thing be­yond its ca­pa­bil­ity or with­out con­sid­er­ing its na­tional con­di­tions,” He said.

“In­stead of tak­ing up the re­spon­si­bil­ity that should be shoul­dered by the United States, we should do what we can based on our own ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” he said. “De­vel­op­ing coun­tries are faced with no other op­tions but to ad­here to a low-car­bon de­vel­op­ment path to re­duce emis­sions while pro­mot­ing so­cial and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. China’s ex­pe­ri­ence pro­vides in­struc­tive ref­er­ences for other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.”

China has shown great lead­er­ship in tack­ling climate change, said Meenakshi Ra­man, le­gal ad­viser and co­or­di­na­tor of the climate change pro­gram of the Third World Net­work, which was formed to strengthen co­op­er­a­tion among de­vel­op­ment and en­vi­ron­men­tal groups in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

China still tops the world in car­bon emis­sions. But it’s not valid to compare the emis­sions of China with those of de­vel­oped coun­tries, she said.

“It’s not the same be­cause, in the his­tory of climate change, many of the prob­lems we are fac­ing to­day arose largely be­cause many of the de­vel­oped coun­tries, which have be­come rich, did not con­strain their car­bon emis­sions,” she said.

In an in­ter­view with Xin­hua News Agency, UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly Pres­i­dent Maria Fer­nanda Espinosa said China has a “crit­i­cal role” in tack­ling climate change and has made “im­mense progress” on low car­bon tech­nolo­gies, as well as pol­icy work on the re­duc­tion of emis­sions.

“I’m im­pressed with China’s com­mit­ment to its climate goals, as in­di­cated by the fact that it has met its 2020 tar­get three years ahead of sched­ule,” Espinosa said.

“I think China’s demon­stra­tion of the mu­tu­ally re­in­forc­ing goals of climate ac­tion and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment can go a long way to en­cour­age oth­ers to in­crease their am­bi­tion to achieve a sus­tain­able and pros­per­ous fu­ture.”

We have to im­prove peo­ple’s liveli­hoods by de­vel­op­ing the economy. Mean­while, we have to try to lower the car­bon in­ten­sity.” He Jiankun, deputy pres­i­dent of China’s Na­tional Ex­pert Com­mit­tee on Climate Change

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