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China touts climate change initiatives

Nov. 22, 2011 at 1:29 PM   |   Comments

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BEIJING, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- China has issued a white paper on climate change ahead of next week's United Nations-sponsored climate change conference in South Africa.

The report outlines the government's initiatives to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

While some of the information in the white paper had been previously made public, this is the first time Beijing released the document in its entirety. A move apparently made to tout its accomplishments ahead of the talks next week in Durban, South Africa.

"This is a significant collection of information and data," Deborah Seligsohn, a fellow with the World Resources Institute, told The New York Times.

Releasing the white paper at a news conference Tuesday, China's top climate change official Xie Zhenhua acknowledged China's role as the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide.

"China's current emissions of greenhouse gases are very large and the growth is very fast," he said, The Wall Street Journal reports. "This is a fact."

To curb emissions growth, China plans to increase the share of non-fossil energy in its total energy consumption to 11.4 percent by 2015 and 15 percent by 2020 from 8.3 percent in 2010, Xie said.

Coal accounts for about 70 percent of the nation's energy consumption.

The white paper, called "China's Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change," says that China has reduced carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent from 2005-10 and it aims for another 17 percent reduction by 2015.

China's initiatives in the next five years will include optimizing the country's energy mix and developing clean energy, the paper says.

Xie admitted that it was a challenge for China to meet this year's goal of reducing energy consumption per unit of economic output by approximately 3 percent. Energy consumption fell 1.6 percent during the first three quarters.

Xie maintained that climate change was ignored when developed countries were in the process of industrialization and urbanization and those countries reached their emissions peak when per capita GDP reached about $40,000. But China, he said, started to address the problem when its per capita GDP reached $4,000.

He noted that poorer countries accounted for 57 percent of emission reductions.

"China is willing to work with the international community to ensure the success of the Durban conference," the document states.

On Monday, China announced it would establish, prior to the Durban conference, the country's first national-level think tank on climate change issues, the National Strategic Research and International Cooperation Center for Climate Change.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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