On October 19, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China and the Chinese Embassy in the UK co-hosted an online press conference on the issues of biodiversity and climate response. Mr Xie Zhenhua, China's Special Envoy for Climate Change, Mr Zhao Yingmin, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China, and HE Zheng Zeguang, Chinese Ambassador to the UK delivered speeches and answered questions from the journalists. Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily, China Central Television, CGTN, China Daily, Phoenix TV, BBC, Sky News, ITV News, The Guardian and Reuters sent reporters to the conference.
The following is the full text of the speech of Ambassador Zheng.
Join Hands to Build a Community with a
Shared Future for All Life on Earth
Speech by H.E. Ambassador Zheng Zeguang at the Press Conference
Chinese Embassy in the UK, 19 October 2021
Special Envoy Xie Zhenhua,
Vice Minister Zhao Yingmin,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in the UK, let me begin by expressing our sincere thanks to Special Envoy Xie Zhenhua and Vice Minister Zhao Yingmin for joining us. And I'd like to welcome friends from the press to today's event.
We have just heard from Special Envoy Xie and Vice Minister Zhao about the outcomes of the first part of CBD COP15 that China hosted as well as China's expectations for COP26. I am sure this will help the media to better understand China's views and propositions.
Recently, the issues of ecological conservation and climate change as well as China-UK cooperation in these areas have attracted a lot of attention here in Britain. I want to make the following points on these issues.
First, China attaches great importance to ecological conservation and climate response.
It is already a national consensus in China that "lucid waters and lush mountains are mountains of gold and silver". This is an idea proposed by President Xi Jinping.
Ecological conservation has been one of the "five prongs" of the overall plan for the country's development since the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, the other four being economic, political, social and cultural development. This means that ecological conservation is a priority in the guidelines of the Communist Party of China and it has been implemented faithfully.
China has proposed the goals of peaking carbon emissions before 2030 and realising carbon neutrality before 2060. The Government has rolled out significant measures for ecological conservation. All these have been incorporated into the overall national development programme and will form the "1+N" policy framework.
These are testimony to China's strong resolve to build a green, low-carbon and circular economic system and realise high-quality development at home and global sustainable development.
Second, China's effort in emissions reduction and environmental protection are producing encouraging outcomes.
Anyone familiar with the political system in China would know that the country is strong in implementation. After years of efforts, China has made remarkable achievements in biodiversity preservation. 90% of the types of natural terrestrial ecosystems and 71% of the species on the national key list of protected wild plants and animals are under effective protection.
In climate action, China had met its target for 2020 ahead of schedule. By the end of last year, carbon emissions intensity had come down by 48.4% compared to the year 2005 and non-fossil fuels accounted for 15.9% of primary energy consumption.
China has launched an emissions trading system and is building a nuclear power generating system, both being the largest in the world.
In sandy and Gobi deserts and uninhabited wasteland, China is planning and building wind power and photovoltaic bases. The first phase of such projects started recently in a smooth fashion, with an installed capacity of approximately 100 gigawatts.
For a developing country with a population of over 1.4 billion that has not completed industrialisation or urbanisation, the nationally-determined contributions (NDCs) that China has adopted voluntarily are no easy decision. Huge efforts will be required. But we honour our commitments and we have full confidence in delivering on our pledges.
Third, China stands ready to join hands with all countries to build a community with a shared future for all life on earth.
Climate change and biodiversity loss are the common challenges facing mankind, and therefore, require the joint response from all countries.
At the moment, it is important that all parties enhance coordination and work for positive outcomes at COP26. To this end, parties must practice true multilateralism and observe international rules. In particular, the principles and requirements under UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement must be adhered to, and the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities, equity and respective capabilities should be upheld.
In setting new environmental protection targets, there must be a balance between ambition and practicality to ensure a fairer and more reasonable global environmental governance system.
Developed countries with a couple of hundred years of industrialisation behind them and historical environmental debts should take the lead in reducing emissions substantially and make bigger contributions to tackling pollution and protecting the environment, instead of pinning the responsibilities on China and other developing countries.
Moreover, they should focus on delivering on their pledges made in Paris in 2015, significantly increase support to developing countries in financing, technology and capacity building. They should deliver on the pledge of providing 100 billion US dollars per year by 2020 to developing countries.
The important measures China has taken not only aim at sustainable development at home and better life for its own people but also contribute positively to global response to climate change.
China has been vigorously supporting developing countries' efforts in addressing climate change. In Africa, we assist local climate monitoring system with satellite technology. In Southeast Asia, we help build low-carbon pilot zones. In small island countries, we introduce energy-saving bulbs and pure electric vehicles. These are tangible results of China's cooperation with less developed regions of the world.
Under the BRI framework, China has launched green action initiatives. In 2020, 57% of China's investment in BRI partner countries went to renewable energy projects, up from 38% in 2019. China has also announced that it will stop building new coal-fired plants overseas and continue providing vigorous support for the development of green and low-carbon energy in developing countries.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Global challenges such as climate change, ecological deterioration and the Covid-19 pandemic tell us once again that planet Earth is our one and only home. The peoples of all countries live in the same "global village". Peaceful coexistence, solidarity and cooperation are the only way to addressing challenges and realising common development.
As countries of global significance, China and the UK should make greater contribution to the progress of mankind. Our two countries enjoy enormous potential for cooperation in preserving bio-diversity and addressing climate change.
A few days ago, HRH The Prince of Wales delivered a video speech at the Leaders Summit of COP15 and had a high-level virtual dialogue with Chinese business leaders. Last month, COP26 President Designate Sharma visited China and had in-depth exchanges of views with Special Envoy Xie Zhenhua. A few days ago, the seventh China-UK Energy Dialogue was held. China and the UK should build on such efforts and step up communication, coordination and cooperation.
At the moment, China and the UK should enhance coordination on the second phase of COP15, and join all parties in promoting the formulation and implementation of an ambitious, pragmatic and balanced Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
The two sides should also work for synergy between COP26 and COP15 and endeavour to achieve positive outcomes in Glasgow.
Areas that the two countries can expand business cooperation include green finance, green technology, green energy (such as offshore wind power, nuclear power and tidal power), electric vehicles and carbon capture and storage. The two sides can also encourage businesses to engage in cooperation with third parties in BRI partner countries.
More importantly, China and the UK need to uphold the principles of mutual respect and mutual benefit, focus on cooperation and handle differences properly, so as to bring the China-UK relationship back on the right track of healthy and steady development. In this way, we can foster an enabling political environment for coordination and cooperation on such major issues as climate response and green development.
I firmly believe that as long as China and the UK join hands, we will be able to create more opportunities for the green development in both countries and make greater contribution to building a community with a shared future for all life on earth.
AT the press conference, Special Envoy Xie, Vice Minister Zhao and Ambassador Zheng answered questions raised by the journalists. Following is the transcript of the questions and the answers by Ambassador Zheng.
People's Daily: Ambassador Zheng, what, in your view, are the specific areas of environmental protection where China and the UK can cooperate?
Ambassador Zheng: First, China and the UK have complementary strengths and enjoy enormous potential for practical cooperation in the area of environmental protection. Our cooperation can be carried out in two areas. Number one is policy coordination. Number two is practical cooperation.
In terms of policy coordination, I think the first priority for the two sides at the moment is to make sure the second phase of COP15 and the upcoming COP26 are real successes. As you have heard from Special Envoy Xie and Vice Minister Zhao, China is sincere in stepping up its communication and cooperation with the UK and other signatory parties for that purpose.
In terms of practical cooperation, I think business communities from both China and the UK can work in many fields, including green technology, green finance, renewable energy, nuclear energy and electric vehicles. Some progress has already been made in the area of electric vehicles. For example you can see BYD electric buses and Geely cabs on the streets of London now. Some Chinese businesses have taken part in the development of vehicle battery, wind power plants and other relevant projects in the UK.
Now I want to emphasise that Chinese investors, they are still watching very closely the evolution of the policies on the part of the United Kingdom. You know, investors are interested -- they show their interest -- when you say to them, your investment is welcomed. But they only make decisions when you show your sincerity with real action. So it's very important for the investment environment here to be continuously improved for Chinese investors.
It is our hope that the UK will work closely with China toward the same direction to create a favourable, enabling environment for businesses of our two countries to cooperate more productively.
So that's my answer to your question. Thank you.
Phoenix TV: Ambassador Zheng, you may have read some news stories and further analysis from British media saying that China has ordered coalmines to increase production by tens of millions of tonnes to combat power crisis ahead of Cop26. Some newspaper also pointed China as the origins of Britain's fuel crisis in this winter. Most British people cannot travel to China to see what the country is doing now but only watch TV at home or pick a newspaper at corner shop in this country. How can China convince them to believe the Eastern country is still taking all essential actions on climate change along with UK and other countries in the West?
Ambassador Zheng: Indeed, since early this year energy prices in the international market have surged, affecting all countries in the world. China has also seen temporary power and coal supply shortage, which were felt in daily life and normal economic activities.
China is taking effective measures to ensure the supply of energy and sustained and rapid economic recovery. Meanwhile, we are firmly curbing the blind development of high-pollution and high-energy-intensity projects, while greatly encouraging nation-wide renewable energy supply and the thrift use of coal. The increase of coal production in China will not be a long-term phenomenon. On the contrary, in the long run, coal production will decrease.
There are domestic reasons to the fuel crisis in the UK. The UK Government and industry experts believe that fuel supply is guaranteed in the country, and the fuel shortage in some regions of the UK is due to lack of lorry drivers and port workers. So it is the problem of logistics. In addition, overall energy prices in the European and international markets have risen, resulting in the closing down of some UK energy companies that could not cover the cost. This intensifies the fuel crisis in the UK. But all these have nothing to do with China. The UK should find answers to settling the crisis in its own country.
As you have heard from Special Envoy Xie and Vice Minister Zhao that China has always keeps its promise. It is not our habit to pay lip service. We mean what we say and we will do what we promise. China's emission reduction targets are not only ambitious but also based on its national conditions and science. We have full confidence in meeting the emission targets we have announced.