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China's Response to Climate Change and its International Impact

On April 24th, Ambassador Fu Ying attended the dinner hosted by the European-Atlantic Group of the House of Commons. She addressed the subject of 'China's Response to Climate Change and its International Impact' and answered questions. About 150 representatives from political, business and academic circles in the UK attended the dinner.

Fu Ying said China has the largest population in the world, with a relatively low level of economic development. The unfavourable weather condition and fragile ecological environment make it one of most vulnerable countries to negative impact of climate change. Meanwhile, China is in a fast growing period, so the climate change situation which we need to respond to is rather severe.

As a developing country, China's emission of green house gases is fast growing these years. But the per capita emission is still low and most of it is subsistence emission. In 2005, China's average carbon emission was 3.8 tons, which was one fifth of the U.S. and 44% of the UK. It was also less 4.2 tons than the average carbon emission of developing countries. The average electricity consumption of China is only 13% of the U.S. and 28% of the UK. There are still 10 million rural Chinese living without electricity. If the income standard is one dollar per person per day, then China still has 135 million people live under the poverty line, which account for one tenth of the total population. Minister of Foreign Affairs in China once said that, if there is one person having 3 slices of bread for breakfast, while three persons each having only one slice, then who should be on diet?

The technology level of China is still backward. According to the statistics of International Energy Agency, in terms of exchange rate, the energy consumption per unit GDP of China is 4.3 times of the U.S., and 6.5 times of the UK. Comparing to the average consumption level of developed countries, China's energy consumption per ton of concrete is 43%, consumption per ton of oil processing is 56%, and consumption of thermal electricity is 22%.

China has become one of the global manufacturing bases. When exporting cheap goods, we are forced to 'import' a great deal of emission. It is estimated that, 30% of the carbon dioxide emission is caused by manufacturing exporting goods. 14% of the emission is caused by exporting goods to the U.S.

Fu Ying said, Chinese people and its government has increasingly realised that high investment, large emission, and growing without considering the environment can not be continued. Saving energy, reducing greenhouse gas and combating climate change is the need for china's self-development, and g brings the notion of developing environmental civilisation. The government has promulgated 'China National Plan for Coping with Climate Change', which is the first National Plan among all the developing countries. There are others like 'Renewable Energy Law' and 'Energy Conservation Law'. National Coordination Committee on Climate Change has been built and led by the Premier of China.

The Chinese government has set plans to reduce energy consumption per unit GDP by 20%, increase the proportion of renewable energy by 10%, and raise forest cover to 20% by 2010. Fu Ying pointed out that, no country in the world has so far successfully industrialised and controlled emissions at the same time. To realise these goals in 5 years, China needs to make greater efforts.

Fu Ying introduced various measures taken by Chinese government on strengthening the assessment of the goals; restraining the excessive growth of industry of high pollution, large consumption and resource-intensive products; and eliminating out-of-date productivity to key enterprises and key projects. It is inferred that as the implementation of the above measures, by 2010, China will reduce 15 billion tons of carbon dioxide emission.

Fu Ying said, from 1st June this year, all the supermarkets in China will not offer free ultra thin plastic shopping bags. The policy, which will cost a lot, may cause the largest plastic bag manufacturing company closing down and 20,000 staff being laid off.

Fu Ying said, in coping with climate change, China has built healthy cooperation and strategic partnership with the EU and the UK. The UK has advanced technology and measures of tackling climate change, which are valuable reference to China. In this January, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited China. Premier Wen Jiabao suggested making the cooperation on energy and environment protection one of the five greatest focuses in the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. There were as many as 14 agreements signed by the two parties.

Wuhan City also signed a memorandum of understanding with UK Trade & Investment, to import a series of new technology of reducing emission. There has been business cooperation too, such as building a eco-city together on the East Beach of Shanghai. The first period of Near Zero Emissions Coal Initiative has been launched last November. Among these 1,000 approved projects by China, British companies participated 40% of them.

Fu Ying pointed out that a strong partnership of the two countries needs popular support. During this month, I have realised that there is still a large gap of perceptions in Britain and other western countries about China. Many of them do not seem to know much about today's China.

Fu Ying showed facts about the rioting in Lhasa, and uncovered the true purpose of the Dalai Lama using so called 'autonomy' to reach 'independence'. She emphasized that some western media's negative report on Tibet and Olympic Torch Relay has misled the people. The Chinese people, especially the young people are very angry about it. This has jeopardised the image of western world in China. Many young Chinese have begun to show doubt about the real purpose of the west.

Fu Ying believed that, western media should carefully consider how to rebuild their reputation in China. Now that China has intimate relationship with the whole world, western media should cover the truth about China, not fabricate or pervert the truth, or even use words to attack China for no reason.

Fu Ying emphasized that objectivity and fairness are the hallmark of a free media, and press freedom also entails responsibilities.

Fu Ying's speech was interrupted many times by applause and laughs. With great interests, the audience asked her questions about China's policy on climate change and energy, Chinese economy, financial trends, human rights issues and negotiations with the Dalai Lama. Fu Ying answered all these questions. Both the speech and the Q & A were well received by the audience.

Baroness Simons expressed admiration to the progress China has achieved these years. They believed that the developing process which has taken China 30 years was completed by European countries for 300 years. Baroness Simons highly praised Fu Ying's hard work in this difficult situation. Fu Ying has convinced people by reasoning, touched people by sincerity, guarded China's dignity, and has won more friends for China. Baroness Simons said she sees the Olympics as a solemn occasion to both China and the world. It is irresponsible of some forces to disrupt and damage it. She believes Beijing will successfully hold the Olympics.

European Atlantic Group was founded by all-party MPs. Those members are from political, business and academic circle within the UK, who have a strong influence. They periodically have dinner together and invite people to talk and discuss on relevant issues.