Changhua Wu: There is total alignment between China and the global climate agenda

Reading time: 5 minutes
16 June 2015

Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group shares her view on China’s climate actions, after the intervention of Premier Li Keqiang at the National Climate Change and Energy Efficiency working group session, which took place last week in Beijing.

As China is expected to release its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) later this month, Premier Li Keqiang is chairing two national working groups on climate change and energy efficiency, which are providing great insight on China’s contribution to the world’s climate agenda.

The first working session took place on Friday in Beijing, with observers since sharing a generally positive feeling about China’s commitment to the global low carbon transition.

Premier Li stressed the importance of getting involved with the international community to tackle climate change, but also said we must consider it as an internal need of the country. China will give a high priority to environmental issues, continuing its process of integrating green and low carbon strategies in the development of its economy.

It was an important remark, as China has been consistent in developing low carbon strategies since 2005, and we are now witnessing the successful outcomes of these policies.

In 2014, China’s energy consumption per GDP unit decreased by 29.9% over the 2005 level, while its CO2 emissions decreased by 33.8% over the same baseline. The government is also confident that its targets for the 12th Five-Year Plan, China’s economic and social development strategy, will be met.

Clean Energy

During the meeting Premier Li also stressed the need for a long-term roadmap for low carbon development, which should include an orderly transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies in the country’s energy mix.

Though a particular emphasis was put on China’s status as a developing country, which still has to focus primarily on economy growth, there were constant remarks on the importance of sustainability in the country’s business model.

It is also particularly important to note that the global economic crisis and climate change were both addressed as issues to be tackled in a joint strategy for a long-term sustainable development.

Critically, China announced its INDC will include a target of peaking its emissions in 2030, but observers suggested that the target might be reached well before. A new policy briefing by Sir Nicholas Stern and Fergus Green was released earlier this month, showing that China is on track to peak its emission in 2025 – and these discussions showed the willingness of the Chinese government to meet the target before 2030.

Green global agenda

In the report, China is said to have entered a new phase of economic development recently, which the authors  call a “new normal”. The aim of this new phase is to achieve economic growth as well as growth in well-being by incorporating green strategies into national policies.

Indeed, China’s engagement in the international climate scenario shows there is now a total alignment between its domestic green agenda and the global one.

This also includes an active involvement in international talks, to enhance South-South climate change cooperation. Premier Li stated China will conduct multi-lateral consultations and will set up a cooperative fund to help and support small island countries, smaller developing countries and African nations.

As responsibilities and commitments are shared between developed and developing countries, we can be cautiously positive about what will happen post-Paris, and how the words of the much-awaited global deal will turn into concrete actions in China and around the world.

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