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H.E. Mme. Tong Xiaoling, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam, Receives Exclusive Interview by The Brunei Times on the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference and China's Position on Addressing Climate Change

In conjunction with the upcoming 15th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP15) and the 5th Conference of Parties of the Kyoto Protocol to be commenced on 7th December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark, H.E. Mme. Tong Xiaoling, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam, received on 5th December an exclusive interview by The Brunei Times on the Conference and China's position on addressing climate change.

H.E. Mme. Tong Xiaoling (Left) with the Journalist

Attached herewith is the full text of the interview.

1. Your Excellency, the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference is going to be held in Denmark in a few days. As a major power in the world, how do you consider China's role at the Conference? What's China's position on attending the conference? What does China expect from it, a binding document or anything else?

The United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 (COP15) to be held in Copenhagen is an important conference for the international community to address the issue of climate change. His Excellency Mr. Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China will lead the Chinese delegation to attend the Conference.

China holds that the conference should aim at achieving positive results of the comprehensive, effective and sustained implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol. The focus should be on making clear and specific arrangements for mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and capital support: First, to establish quantified emission reduction targets for developed countries during Kyoto Protocol's second commitment period and ensure those developed countries which have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol will undertake comparable emission reduction commitment; second, to make effective mechanism arrangements and ensure developed countries will fulfill their commitment of providing developing countries with capital, technology transfer and capacity building support; third, developing countries, after receiving developed countries' technology, capital and capacity building support, should adopt appropriate adaptation and mitigation efforts in line with their own national conditions under the framework of sustainable development.

Recently, many countries have argued on the question of what outcome document to be adopted at the conference. China believes that the substantive content of the Conference's outcome document is more important than its name. No matter what form the final document will be carried in, it shall comply with the provisions of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol. And it shall not deviate from the basic principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" or the mandate of the Bali Roadmap. The international community should implement their obligations and take actions in a highly responsible manner in order to protect the common interests of the whole humanity.

2. China recently announced its emission cut targets, which has drawn world attention. Your Excellency, how do you comment on the targets? We know that China is still a developing country. Will these targets pose a big challenge to China's economic development?

On 26th November 2009, China's State Council announced the targets for the control of greenhouse gas emissions. China will cut CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% by 2020 from the 2005 level, increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 15% by 2020, and increase forest coverage by 40 million hectares and forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 from the 2005 levels. This is a voluntary action taken by the Chinese government and a major contribution to the global campaign against climate change. These targets have shown China's utmost efforts and embodied the most sincere aspiration of the 1.3 billion Chinese people in addressing climate change.  

I agree with you on that China is still a developing country and will meet various difficulties and challenges ahead. Given the country's huge population, prominent economic structural problems, coal-dominated energy consumption structure, and increasing demand for energy, the Chinese government needs to make arduous efforts to realize all the targets.

But meanwhile, we also take these challenges as opportunities for China's national development in a sustainable manner. The targets, announced for the first time by China, will be incorporated into China's medium and long-term national development plans. Laws, regulations and standards will be formulated and fiscal, taxation, pricing and financial measures will be introduced to manage and facilitate the implementation of the targets. More funds will be channeled to the research and development of energy-related and environment-friendly technologies. China will also strengthen joint efforts with the international community in sustainable development for the world.

3. As is known to all, the United States, the European Union countries, Japan, and other industrialized countries have long been the top CO2 emitters in the world. Currently, China, India and other developing countries are under much pressure from the developed countries on setting even higher emission cut target. Your Excellency, how do you see this pressure?

Any actions by the international community on climate change shall observe the principles of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, and honor the commitments of the Bali Roadmap. The principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" prescribed in the UNFCCC is of particular importance. According to scientific research, the issue of climate change today is a result of accumulative CO2 emissions by the developed countries in the process of their industrialization over the past 100 to 200 years. From 1750 to now, more than 80% of the accumulative CO2 emissions in the atmosphere has been from developed countries, which is the root cause of climate change facing us today. In this sense, developing countries are victims. Therefore, the developed countries should take historical responsibilities on climate change.

The UNFCCC clearly provides for the obligations which developed countries should undertake and the actions which they should adopt. This is not the proposition of developing countries, but a consensus reached by the international community including developed countries. Therefore, it is unfair for developed countries to require China, India and some other developing countries to undertake similar obligations to theirs. It is strongly hoped that developed countries would pay greater attention to fulfilling their commitment rather than raise various unreasonable requirements which go against the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol. We must bear in mind that to deny the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" will only undermine the foundation of international cooperation on addressing climate change.

4. His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam often stressed the importance of tackling climate change on many international and regional occasions. Your Excellency, how do you comment on Brunei's efforts to combat climate change? How can China and Brunei cooperate in this regard?

Brunei Darussalam is a Shangri-La in Southeast Asia, but is not an exception to the impacts of climate change. The most noticeable impacts in Brunei have been the abnormal changes in weather conditions which caused floods and landslides in many areas.

Conscious of the adverse effects of climate change, the Bruneian government has done quite much to tackle the problem, along with the international community. In recent years, Brunei has been renowned for its relentless efforts in the Heart of Borneo (HOB) project covering Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. According to relevant estimate, Borneo's tropical rainforests are home to 221 species of mammals, 620 species of birds and over 150 species of dipterocarp trees. Moreover, at the 6th BIMP-EAGA Summit held in Thailand last October, Brunei joined the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI). This vast area of the Indo-Pacific coral triangle harbors 75% of world's known coral species, 50% of world's reefs and 40% of world's coral reef fish species. All these actions of Brunei to conserve the nature have won recognition and acclaim from around the region.

As I see it, there is still room where Brunei can do more. Brunei is rich in petroleum and natural gas resources which are precious gifts from the nature. But some people just take them for granted and hardly practice energy saving. I read a report saying that Brunei's energy consumption per capita, in terms of kilowatt, is the second highest in the ASEAN. So I think that Bruneian people should further raise awareness of environment conservation and contribute their small parts in everyday life.

Brunei and China are both developing countries which are tasked of advancing economies and reducing CO2 emissions. China would like to cooperate with Brunei in safeguarding the collective interests of developing countries. The two countries can exchange experiences and share expertise in developing a low-carbon and environment-friendly economy by resorting to non-fossil fuels and renewable energies. We can also enhance cooperation on the issue of climate change under the frameworks of 10+1, 10+3, East Asia Summit, BIMP-EAGA, etc. I believe that with joint efforts, the cooperation on climate change will further enrich the all-round friendly and cooperative relations between China and Brunei Darussalam. 

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