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Interview with H.E. Ambassador Song Zhe, Head of the Mission of the People's Republic of China to the European Union by the European Voice on Climate Change
2009/12/12
 

1. How do you look at climate change issues? What is China’s response to climate change?

A: The issue of climate change is a major challenge facing the entire human race. This issue requires a comprehensive, all-dimensional and historical perspective. It requires all countries to cooperate and respond.

 

Some developed countries argue that China’s carbon reduction intensity is not ambitious enough, and even demand an increase of China’s target. Such argument is neither objective nor fair. China is a developing country, there are still 150 million people living in poverty. Meanwhile, China's energy structure is dominated by coal, and China faces huge pressure and special difficulty to control GHG emissions. For such a developing country like China, development will necessarily imply reasonable increase of energy demand and corresponding emissions. Tackling climate change should not sacrifice development, or continue poverty and backwardness.

 

Some developed countries are talking about China's total emission, but they seem to forget that China has a 1.3 billion population. In 2006, 1.3 billion Chinese people emit 5.6 billion tons of CO2, accounting for 20% of the world’s total. Developed countries, with less than 1 billion people, emit about 12.9 billion tons, accounting for 46% of the world’s total. Because of development needs and needs to improve people’s lives, we must maintain a reasonable space of emission, and is it possible to ask the Chinese people to enjoy 20% or 30% of the rights of developed countries in terms of economic development, energy consumption or corresponding emission?

 

The targets of China are no less ambitious than any developed countries. From 1990 to 2005, CO2 emission intensity per unit of GDP of all developed countries only dropped by 26%, China dropped by 46%. China's 40-45% target at 2020 is already reaching the limit. We must emphasize that China’s voluntary reduction targets do not attach any conditions, it is not linked to any other countries’ action. We will deliver what we promise.

 

Turning to the historical responsibility for climate change, I would like to quote one set of data: during the 155 years from 1850 to 2005, the world has discharged 1.1222 trillion tons of CO2, and developed countries have discharged 806.5 billion tons, 72% of the total, and the EU accounts for 27.5% (per capita cumulative emissions: 958 tons for Germany, 1125 tons for the United Kingdom, 173 tons for world average, China only 71 tons). In 2006, with 1 / 6 of the world's population, the developed countries account for almost 50% of the emissions. An empty talk about international cooperation, in disregard of historical responsibility and facts, or only talking about the so-called shared responsibility, will not convince the world.

The Kyoto Protocol stipulates that developed countries must reduce emissions collectively by 5.2% on 1990 basis. In fact, most developed countries have increased, not reduced emissions. On the other hand, the developed countries have promised funds and technology transfer to developing countries, but for the last 20 years no or little action has been taken.

 

Whether from the point of view of historical responsibility, or reality, whether in terms of treaty obligations or capability, the developed countries should unconditionally continue to take the lead to cut emission by a big margin after 2012, and fulfill their obligations in providing funds and transfering technology to developing countries .

 

2. How do you describe the current state of discussions in Copenhagen?

A: Progress has been slow in the negotiations at the conference. It’s mainly because the developed countries have moved backwards from their previous position, and on the other, they make many unreasonable demands over developing countries, which seriously affect the negotiation process and impede the Copenhagen Conference to achieve positive results.

 

Western countries often talk about "fairness" and "responsibility." In exploring the issue of climate change, one should also not ignore the "fairness" and "responsibility." First of all, the long process of industrialization of developed countries accumulates wealth for them, but creates damage to the environment of the present world. Yet they refuse to take the remedial responsibility, which is unfair to other developing countries. Secondly, according to 2006 survey of global emission, the per capita emissions by developed countries are almost 4 times that of developing countries, on such an unequal basis, it is not fair to ask them to shoulder the same responsibility. Thirdly, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Kyoto Protocol have entered into force for many years, to reduce emissions in accordance with the requirements of the Convention and the Protocol is not only the responsibility of the developed countries, but also their legal obligations. The developed countries are unwilling and have not met these legal obligations, and are not in the position to ask other countries to fulfill corresponding responsibility.

 

3. Third, how do you evaluate the European Union commitment to provide 2.4 billion euros of "fast-track financing" each year from 2010 to 2012 to the least developed countries?

A: We welcome the EU to make this positive commitment, but it still falls far short of the recommendations of authoritative United Nations report, the requirements of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and the expectations of the international community. The funding issue is a concept of package, not refering only to assistance to the least developed countries. It also include financial support for adaptation and capacity-building to all developing countries. We hope that the EU will make more ambitious commitments by the final stage of the Copenhagen Conference.

 

4. How will the Chinese side promote the Copenhagen Conference to reach a "political agreement"?

A: The Copenhagen meeting is in progress, Premier Wen Jiabao will also be present, which indicates that the Chinese side takes the Conference itself and the issue of climate change seriously.

The Chinese side maintains that only by adhering to the principle of Convention and the Protocol, in particular the "common but differentiated responsibilities" principle, and the mandate of the "Bali Roadmap", will the parties reach a legally binding agreement. We hope all parties will continue to make joint efforts for the Conference to achieve positive results.

5. Will China adjust its position?

A: China's position is consistent. We believe that the goal of the conference is to achieve positive results in terms of further strengthening the comprehensive, effective and sustained implementation of the UNFCCC and the "Kyoto Protocol". The focus should be on making clear and specific arrangements regarding mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and funding support.

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