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H.E. Mme. Tong Xiaoling, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam, Holds Press Briefing to Brunei Media on Copenhagen Climate Change Conference
2009/12/24

Her Excellency Mme. Tong Xiaoling, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam, held on 24th December 2009 a press briefing to Brunei media on Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. Present at the briefing were leading senior editors and journalists from Borneo Bulletin and The Brunei Times.

Ambassador Tong (Central) with the Media Friends

Attached herewith is the full text of the press briefing.

Press Briefing by Her Excellency Mme. Tong Xiaoling,
Ambassador of the People's Republic of China, on the
Copenhagen Climate Change Conference and
China's Efforts in Combating Climate Change

24th December 2009

I. China's Position on Climate Change and Its General Efforts

Climate change is a major global challenge. It is the common mission of the entire mankind to curb global warming and save our planet. It calls for each and every country, nation, enterprise and individual to act, and act now in response to this challenge. The past 30 years have seen remarkable progress in China's modernization drive. Bearing in mind the fundamental interests of the Chinese people and mankind's long-term development, we have made unremitting efforts in and positive contribution to the fight against climate change.

China was the first developing country to adopt and implement a National Climate Change Program. We have formulated or revised the Energy Conservation Law, Renewable Energy Law, Circular Economy Promotion Law, Clean Production Promotion Law, Forest Law, Grassland Law and Regulations on Civil Building Efficiency. Laws and regulations have been an important means for us to address climate change.

China has made the most intensive efforts in energy conservation and pollution reduction in recent years. We have improved the taxation system and advanced the pricing reform of resource products with a view to putting in place at an early date a pricing mechanism that is responsive to market supply and demand, resource scarcity level and the cost of environmental damage. We have introduced 10 major energy conservation projects and launched an energy conservation campaign involving 1,000 enterprises, bringing energy-saving action to industry, transportation, construction and other key sectors. We have implemented pilot projects on circular economy, promoted energy-saving and environment-friendly vehicles and supported the use of energy-saving products by ordinary households with government subsidies. We have worked hard to phase out backward production facilities that are energy intensive and heavily polluting. The inefficient production capacity that China eliminated between 2006 and 2008 stood at 60.59 million tons for iron, 43.47 million tons of steel, 140 million tons for cement and 64.45 million tons for coke. By the end of the first half of this year, China's energy consumption per unit of GDP had dropped by 13% from the 2005 level, equivalent to reducing 800 million tons of carbon dioxide.

China has a 1.3 billion population and its per capita GDP has only exceeded 3,000 U.S. dollars. According to the U.N. standards, we still have 150 million people living below the poverty line and we therefore face the arduous task of developing the economy and improving people's livelihood. China is now at an important stage of accelerated industrialization and urbanization, and, given the predominant role of coal in our energy mix, we are confronted with special difficulty in emission reduction. However, we have always regarded addressing climate change as an important strategic task. Between 1990 and 2005, China's carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP were reduced by 46%. Building on that, we have set the new target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% by 2020 from the 2005 level. To reduce carbon dioxide emissions on such a large scale and over such an extended period of time will require tremendous efforts on our part. Our target will be incorporated into China's mid-and-long term plan for national economic and social development as a mandatory one to ensure that its implementation is subject to the supervision by the law and public opinions. We will further enhance the domestic-statistical, monitoring and evaluation methods, improve the way for releasing emission reduction information, increase transparency and actively engage in international exchange, dialogue and cooperation.

To meet the climate challenge, the international community must strengthen confidence, build consensus, make vigorous effort and enhance cooperation. And we must always adhere to the following three principles:

First, maintaining the consistency of outcomes:

The campaign against climate change has not just started. In fact, the international community has been engaged in this endeavor for decades. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol are the outcomes of long and hard work by all countries. They reflect the broad consensus among all parties and serve as the legal basis and guide for international cooperation on climate change. And as such, they must be highly valued and further strengthened and developed. Premier Wen stressed at the conference that the outcomes must stick to rather than obscure the basic principles enshrined in the Convention and the Protocol, it must follow rather than deviate from the mandate of the "Bali Roadmap", it should lock up rather than deny the consensus and progress already achieved in the negotiations.

Second, upholding the fairness of rules:

The principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" represents the core and bedrock of international cooperation on climate change and it must never be compromised. Developed countries account for 80% of the total global carbon dioxide emissions since the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago. If we all agree that carbon dioxide emissions are the direct cause for climate change, then it is all too clear who should take the primary responsibility. Developing countries only started industrialization a few decades ago and many of their people still live in abject poverty today. It is totally unjustified to ask them to undertake emission reduction targets beyond their due obligations and capabilities in disregard of historical responsibilities, per capita emissions and different levels of development. Developed countries, which are already leading an affluent life, still maintain a level of per capita emissions that is far higher than that of developing countries, and most of their emissions are attributed to consumption. In comparison, emissions from developing countries are primarily survival emissions and international transfer emissions. Today, 2.4 billion people in the world still rely on coal, charcoal, and stalks as main fuels, and 1.6 billion people have no access to electricity. Action on climate change must be taken within the framework of sustainable development and should by no means compromise the efforts of developing countries to get rid of poverty. Developed countries must take the lead in making deep quantified emission cuts and provide financial and technological support to developing countries. This is an unshirkable moral responsibility as well as a legal obligation that they must fulfill. Developing countries should, with the financial and technological support of developed countries, do what they can to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change in the light of their national conditions.

Third, paying attention to the practicality of the targets:

In tackling climate change, we need to take a long-term perspective, but more importantly, we should focus on the present. The Kyoto Protocol has clearly set out the emission reduction targets for developed countries in the first commitment period by 2012. However, a review of implementation shows that the emissions from many developed countries have increased rather than decreased. And the mid-term reduction targets recently announced by developed countries fall considerably short of the requirements of the Convention and the expectations of the international community. It is necessary to set a direction for our long-term efforts, but it is even more important to focus on achieving near-term and mid-term reduction targets, honoring the commitments already made and taking real action. One action is more useful than a dozen programs. We should give people hope by taking credible actions.

Fourth, ensure the effectiveness of institutions and mechanisms:

Concrete actions and institutional guarantee are essential to our effort in tackling climate change. The international community should make concrete and effective institutional arrangements under the Convention and urge developed countries to honor their commitments, provide sustained and sufficient financial support to developing countries, speed up the transfer of climate-friendly technologies and effectively help developing countries, especially small island states, least developed countries, landlocked countries and African countries, to strengthen their capacity in combating climate change.

It is with a sense of responsibility to the Chinese people and the whole mankind that the Chinese government has set the target for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. This is a voluntary action China has taken in the light of its national circumstances. We have not attached any condition to the target, nor have we linked it to the target of any other country. We will honor our word with real action.

II. China's Evaluation of the Conference Outcome and Its Major Work at the Conference

The just-concluded Copenhagen Conference is an important opportunity for international cooperation in tackling climate change. It was reported that Heads of State or Government from 119 countries attended the Conference. As a result of concerted efforts by all parties, the Copenhagen conference yielded fruit, reached broad consensus and won support from developing nations. The Conference ended with an agreement by countries to cap the global temperature rise by committing to significant emission reductions and to raise finance to kick-start action in the developing world to deal with climate change. At the meeting, world leaders agreed the Copenhagen Accord, which was supported by a majority of countries, including amongst them the biggest and the richest, and the smallest and most vulnerable. China had made arduous efforts to push forward the progress of the talks, and contributed to safeguarding the collective rights of developing countries, which was obvious to all and undoubtful. We believe the Conference produced important and positive outcomes for the following reasons:

First, the framework and principles established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, especially the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities", were firmly upheld. The Copenhagen Accord endorses the draft texts submitted by the chairs of the two Ad Hoc Working Groups of the Convention and the Protocol and thus keeps their negotiating framework forward.

Second, it is because of this Conference that both developed and developing countries had set out some targets and taken new actions to address climate change. Developed countries set out mandatory emission reduction targets required by the Kyoto Protocol. Developing countries put forward voluntary mitigation actions. These commitments recorded in two separate tables appended to the Accord. Just think about it: had there been no such a Conference, the commitments would not have been made, or they would well have been postponed.

Third, there are major issues in climate change negotiations, including global long-term targets, financing, technology transfer and transparency. It is fair to say that parties are deeply divided on these issues in the negotiations in the past few years. After intensive negotiations before the Conference and with leaders' meetings and good offices during the Conference, an initial consensus was reached on these issues. This in itself is a very important outcome. Take global long-term targets for example. It was agreed that global temperature should not rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius by 2050. In terms of financing, the Accord provides for the establishment of a mechanism in which developed countries should provide funding to developing countries. Developed countries have already committed to a target, namely, providing US$10 billion a year up to 2012, which will total US$30 billion. They have also pledged to mobilize US$100 billion a year by 2020. Although the numbers are not that significant and in China's view are not enough, they do mark a step forward. It was also agreed that a mechanism should be set up for technology transfer.

As for the issue of transparency, or in other words, how can we ensure that the mandatory emission cut targets and voluntary mitigation actions pledged by all countries are transparent? In accordance with the provisions of the Convention, the Protocol and the Bali Action Plan, the emission cut targets set by developed countries are mandatory and should be subject to "MRV (measurable, reportable and verifiable)". The financial and technological support provided by developed countries to developing countries should also be subject to "MRV". For developing countries, their mitigation actions can be divided into two categories. International "MRV" is only required for actions launched with international financial and technological support, nor for the voluntary actions taken by developing countries with their own resources. However, in order to increase transparency and openness, the issue of greater transparency was also discussed this time for the mitigation actions voluntarily taken by developing countries without international support. A fairly good proposal was put forward: countries will report their respective actions and then there will be a process of international consultations and analyses.

All these outcomes are not easily earned and result from a compromise by all parties. At the same time, this Conference is only one stop in the journey of the international community's tackling climate change, we need go further. Tackling climate change is a long and arduous endeavor. The Copenhagen Conference is not an end, but a new beginning. Just as H.E. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General said about the Copenhagen Conference outcomes, "We have sealed the deal. This accord cannot be everything that everyone hoped for, but it is an essential beginning". All parties should continue to demonstrate political sincerity, stick to the principles enshrined in the Convention and the Protocol, follow the Bali Roadmap, and earnestly fulfill the newly-formed commitments and honor due obligations through unremitting efforts. China is committed to the path of sustainable development, and will work with the international community to make active contributions to the historical process of tackling climate change.

What is mentioned above is China's evaluation of the conference outcome. Now I would like to introduce the major work which China has done at the conference.

As many countries noted, China takes the climate change issue and the Copenhagen Conference very seriously. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's attendance at the Conference fully shows our seriousness. The first thing that Premier Wen said to other leaders after arriving in Copenhagen was that he had come with sincerity, resolve and confidence and he had come to help produce result. Indeed, China, especially Premier Wen himself, made a great deal of efforts both before and during the Conference.

Premier Wen delivered an important speech at the conference. He outlined comprehensively the Chinese government's position, views and measures on the issue of climate change. He also engaged in close contacts, communication and coordination with other parties. He called upon all sides to bear in mind the larger interest, strengthen confidence, respect each other and conduct equal consultations. He appealed to all to build consensus, seek common ground while reserving differences, and strive for achievements at the conference in line with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" and the spirit of win-win cooperation. We can proudly tell the world that China has made important contribution to the international endeavor on climate change and to the success of the Copenhagen Conference. With sincerity, resolve and confidence, China made every effort and did all that was possible for the conference. It played an active and constructive role in pushing forward the conference along the right track, and made important contributions to solidifying and enhancing international cooperation on combating climate change.

China had always participated in the negotiations and consultations with a cooperative, responsible and constructive spirit, and maintained close communication and coordination with all parties. As a developing country, China firmly upheld the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities", steadfastly defended the development right and interests of developing countries and unswervingly safeguarded the unity and coordination among developing countries. China had thorough, transparent and unimpeded communication with other developing countries. Based on full consultations with other developing countries and the Group of 77, the BASIC countries, which include China, India, South Africa and Brazil, jointly presented a draft text to the relevant parties at the very beginning of the conference. Premier Wen had a long meeting with the leaders of some small island states, least developed countries and African countries in Copenhagen to listen to their opinions. He expressed full understanding and firm support for their legitimate demands, and stated that China would continue to support and help them to the best of its ability within the framework of South-South cooperation and through bilateral channels. China's position and propositions were widely supported and appreciated by other developing countries.

You can see very well that after all these efforts, the final outcomes may be the only viable ones. Although the Copenhagen Accord is neither legally binding nor fully satisfactory, it is the best result we may get. With this Accord, we can continue to move forward. Despite criticisms and concerns of all sorts, we will come to an objective and fair conclusion if we adopt an objective perspective, i.e. the Conference produced positive and important outcomes.

III. British Politicians' Accusations against China

Recently, a certain British politician accused China and some other countries of trying to "hijack" the Copenhagen climate deal. The remarks contained obvious political attempts. Such an accusation was made in order to shirk the obligations of developed countries to their developing counterparts and foment discord among developing countries, but the attempt was doomed to fail. We urge them to correct mistakes, fulfill their obligations to developing countries in an earnest way, and stay away from activities that hinder the international community's cooperation in coping with climate change.

IV. Brunei and Climate Change

Just as Pehin Abdullah, Brunei's Minister of Development, has remarked at the Copenhagen Conference, Brunei is not spared from the spate of adverse impacts of climate change although it is not a significant emission contributor. As an important and responsible member of international community, Brunei has tried to contribute its utmost to addressing climate change. China highly appreciates all Brunei's proactive efforts to advance the Heart of Borneo (HOB) project and the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) as well as Brunei's resolve to develop renewable energy and achieve sustainable development. The positive outcome of the Copenhagen Conference is attributed to the concerted efforts of developing countries including Brunei.

China and Brunei share common ground on the issues of climate change and sustainable development. The two countries have maintained sound communication and cooperation in this regard on both international and regional occasions. In the years to come, China, Brunei and other developing countries should stand even more united to ensure an effective and sustained implementation of the Copenhagen Accord, the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, and to safeguard the common interests of the developing countries and the whole mankind.

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