Combating Climate Change: China in Action
by Wang Xining, Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia
2021-11-15 18:23

China firmly believes that there is a common future for the mankind and no country is immune from the challenges presented by climate change. Addressing climate change is both a domestic demand to realize sustainable development and an international obligation that a responsible country should assume. It's not something enforced on China, but something the country is doing on its own initiative. 

At the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China would scale up its Nationally Determined Contributions by adopting more vigorous policies and measures, strive to peak CO2 emissions before 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. At the Glasgow COP26 summit, he stressed that China is committed to a green and low-carbon development path that gives priority to ecological conservation. China’s "1+N" policy framework has identified the timetable, road map and blueprint for its carbon peaking and carbon neutrality. 

This is an extraordinary and aspiring commitment that stands on the right side of history and on the side of human progress. Why is that? Because it would take 71 years for the EU, 43 years for the US and 37 years for Japan to move from carbon peak to carbon neutrality. By comparison, China has set itself a time limit of only 30 years.

It is true that China today is still one of the world's main contributing countries of CO2 emissions. However, when we count the cumulative emissions of each country since 1850, we find that China's total CO2 emissions over the past 170 years amount to 284Gt, which is merely half that of the US. Statistics also show that China’s annual CO2 emissions per capita of 2020 at 7.41 tons is much less than 14.24 tons of the US and 15.37 tons of Australia.

For country like China, with the the largest population in the world and the fastest industrialization in history, reaching neutrality in 30 years is truly an arduous task and requires more painstaking effort. But China is a firm believer in honoring its words with actions. In recent years, China has made the response to climate change a higher priority in state governance, including formulating and implementing a variety of national strategies, regulations, policies and standards. On top of that, great efforts were made, resulting in substantial progress. 

By the end of 2020, China’s carbon emission intensity had come down by 48% compared with 2005, which means that China had more than fulfilled its commitment of 40%-45% to the international community when acceding to Paris Agreement. The drop in carbon intensity translates to a total reduction of about 5.8 billion tons of carbon emissions. 

Nowadays, electricity generated by non-fossil energy represented more than one third of the power consumption of the country. The total installed capacity of PV power generation increased by a factor of more than 3,000 compared with 2005, and wind by a factor of more than 200. China has led the world in PV capacity additions for eight consecutive years. In the manufacture of wind power and PV power generation equipment, China is the global leader in terms of technology and output. Recently China has started construction of a batch of large wind power and PV bases with a combined installed capacity of 30 million kW, marking the beginning of the first phase of projects with an installed capacity of approximately 100 million kW. In 2021,China announced that there will be no new coal-fired power projects abroad.

And China will do more along the path. Firstly, China will press ahead with industrial restructuring, implement strict market access standards for 13 industries, including iron & steel, ferroalloy and coking, curb the haphazard development of energy-intensive and high-emission projects. 

Secondly, China will improve and adjust the energy mix, prioritize the development of non-fossil fuels, promote the green development of hydro power, invest more in wind and solar power development, pursue the orderly development of nuclear power under the precondition of guaranteed safety, and develop biomass energy, geothermal energy and marine energy. 

Thirdly, China will actively explore new low-carbon models of development. The government has set a binding target of slashing carbon intensity by 18 percent from 2020 to 2025. Pilots and demonstrations on green and low-carbon development in fields such as energy, industry, construction, and transport had been launched.

Climate change bears on the future of everyone on earth and thus requires joint actions of the international community. While western politicians are bickering at the Glasgow summit over when to honor their commitment to provide $US 100 billion a year to fund the climate change transition costs of poor nations, China has already done its best to provide assistance and support for fellow developing countries. China has allocated CNY 1.1 billion for South-South cooperation on climate change, donated energy conservation and new energy products and devices to almost 40 countries, helped relevant countries to launch meteorological satellites, and trained nearly 1,500 officials and technical personnel working in the climate response sector of 120 developing countries. 

China and the US released the Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s, pledging to continue working together and with all parties to strengthen the implementation of the Paris Agreement. They also stressed to enhance climate action on the basis of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities as well as taking into account national conditions.

Australia has been promoting a technology-based approach as the solution to global warming, and has a unique advantage in the usage of wind, solar and hydrogen energy. China is ready to strengthen cooperation with all countries including Australia, and make greater contributions to the global response to climate change.

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia
Address: 15 Coronation Drive, Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Tel: 0061-2-62283999, Fax: 0061-2-62283836
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