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Addressing Climate Change through Sustainable Development

Remarks by H.E. Mdm. Sun Baohong

Chinese Ambassador to Ghana

at the Opening Ceremony of the Conference on Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Africa

(Sunyani, 25 July 2017)

Mdm. Chairperson,

Hon. Evens Opoku Bobie, Deputy Regional Minister of Brong Ahafo,

Respected Professor Harrison Dapaah, Vice Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources,

Respected Dr. Johnson Nkem, Senior Climate Adaption Expert of the African Union,

Distinguished Guests,

Teachers and Students,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning. I am very delighted to come to the beautiful city of Sunyani for the second time and discuss the important issue of climate change and sustainable development with you. First of all, please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Ghana, to extend my warm congratulations on the convening of this conference and my heartfelt appreciation to the University of Energy and Natural Resources for the kind invitation.

Climate change is by far the biggest environmental issue facing mankind and one of the most complicated challenges to which human beings must respond. While we are not the initiator of climate change, everyone, without exception, will be the victim of it. The impact of climate change has extended from environmental area alone to the field of international politics, economy and trade, and this trend continues to strengthen against the dual background of economic globalization and the globalization of environmental issues. Recently, the World Meteorological Organization warned that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, the global average temperature will increase by 4 degrees at the end of the 21st century. Extreme weather and abnormal climate will destroy our today’s efforts, which none of us is willing to experience. As the world economy is gaining a positive momentum, the fundamental problems have not been solved yet and the world economy still faces many uncertainties and instabilities. African countries are facing multiple challenges such as war and conflict, terrorism, poverty and refugees. There is a long way to go to realize sustainable development. The theme of today's conference is African climate change and sustainable development, which I believe is very timely.

I would like to take this opportunity to brief you China’s position on addressing climate change.

First of all, we should treat both the symptoms and the root causes. Climate change is an environmental issue as well as a development issue, and in the final analysis, it is a development issue. Fundamentally speaking, issues facing the world today are caused by under-development and can only be solved through sustainable development. Development is the key to solve all the problems. Only through sustainable development can developing countries turn challenges into opportunities and realize double harvests of poverty alleviation and energy conservation and emission reduction.

Second, we should abide by the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. Although there is equal impact of climate change on human beings, yet the liability subject responsible for pollution is different. So the responsibility for governance is differentiated. According to the mainstream cognition of the scientific community, the present climate change issue was mainly caused by developed countries in their long-term process of industrialization. From the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century, developed countries accounted for 95% of the total emissions of carbon dioxide. Within 50 years ranging from 1950 to 2000, the emissions of developed countries still accounted for 77% of the total emissions. Further more, the greenhouse gas will linger in the atmosphere and will not vanish for decades or even centuries. The carbon dioxide above our head now may have been emitted by the first steam engine invented by Watt in 1769. Therefore, in addressing climate change, we should stress on both the current responsibility and the historical responsibility as well as the common responsibility and the differentiated responsibility.

Third, we should accommodate the conditions of various countries and stress practical results. It is imperative to respect the differences among countries, especially developing countries, in domestic policies, capacity building and economic structure and avoid imposing uniformity in implementation. Addressing climate change should not, by any means, hinder the legitimate needs of developing countries to get rid of poverty and improve people’s livelihood. Special difficulties of developing countries must be well attended to.

Fourth, we should strengthen international cooperation. In December 2015, the Paris Agreement was reached at the Paris Climate Change Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The conference injected fresh impetus into global efforts to address climate change and pursue sustainable development. It also provided institutional guarantee to mobilize governments, enterprises and non-governmental organizations to participate in the international efforts. Developed countries should honor their commitment of mobilizing US$100 billion each year before 2020 and providing financial and technical assistance to developing countries in order to enhance their capability to address climate change.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the largest developing country, China has taken the construction of ecological civilization and sustainable development as basic state policy. The ancient Chinese sages underlined the philosophy of unity of heaven and human beings and following the nature. The central leadership of China firmly believes that the lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets and puts forward the Five Major Concepts of Development, that is, innovation, co-ordination, green, opening-up and sharing. We make addressing climate change the inherent demand of sustainable development, strive to establish a new pattern of modernization within which human beings and nature develop harmoniously. We deeply engage in global governance, forge a community of shared destiny for mankind, and promote common development for all.

Domestically, China is committed to the promise of energy conservation and emission reduction. China adheres to the state policy of resource conservation and environmental protection, attaches equal importance to the mitigation and adaptation of climate change, promotes technical, management and institutional innovation. China also speeds up revolution of energy production and consumption, and continues to adjust its economic structure to optimize the energy mix, improve energy efficiency and increase forest carbon sinks so as to efficiently mitigate the greenhouse gas emission. China is embarking on a path of sustainable development which is in line with its national conditions and leads to multiple wins in terms of economic development, social progress and addressing climate change.

China will conscientiously fulfill the targets set in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions: the emission of carbon dioxide will peak by 2030, the emission of carbon dioxide per unit of GDP will reduce by 60-65% as compared with that of 2005 , the ratio of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption will account for 20% and the forest stock will increase by around 4.5 billion cubic meters from 2005. For this purpose, China’s National Plan on Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was issued, and addressing climate change and sustainable development were included into the 13th Five-Year Plan.

On January 12, 2017, the Chinese government submitted the Biennial Update Report on Climate Change to the Secretariat of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. According to the report, by 2015, the emission of carbon dioxide per unit of GDP of China dropped by 38.6% from 2005 and by 21.7% from 2010; the non-fossil fuels accounted for 12% of the total energy consumption; forest area and stock volume increased respectively by 32.78 million hectares and about 2.68 billion cubic meters as compared with 2005. In 2016, China’s energy consumption grew by 1.3%, less than a quarter of the average growth rate in the past ten years. The coal production decreased by 7.9%, the largest margin in history. China overtook the US by becoming the largest consumer of renewable energy. Solar and wind power are thriving in China. This year, China’s unified carbon market has taken initial shape, which is the biggest carbon market in the world.

Externally, China is fulfilling its responsibility to promote international cooperation in addressing climate change. China is ready to seriously implement the obligations under the Paris Agreement and conduct series of systematic arrangements with a view to supporting the United Nations to play a greater role in carrying out the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China will build the One Belt and One Road international coalition for green development which means to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through co-building the One Belt and One Road Initiative so as to provide support to relevant countries in adapting to climate change and realizing green development.

China adheres to the principle of upholding justice and pursuing shared interests, and is committed to helping the developing countries with capacity building. China will continue to stand for the developing world, advocate common but differentiated responsibility, urge the developed countries to take the lead in emission reduction, and providing financial assistance to the developing countries. China will implement policy commitment on South-South cooperation in the field of climate change and support developing countries by providing financial and technical assistance within our capacity.

From 2011 to 2016, Chinese government funded 720 million yuan RMB in total to carry out South-South cooperation on climate change. The aid is mainly aimed at supporting African countries, the least developed countries and small island countries. China has organized more than 40 seminars on South-South cooperation on climate change, which has trained thousands of officials and technicians. The Chinese government signed 25 Memorandums of Understanding on Granting of Goods for Addressing Climate Change with developing countries. The goods include LED street lamps, energy-saving air-conditioners, solar photovoltaic power generation systems, cleaning stoves, etc. Recently, the Chinese side donated a batch of goods for addressing climate change to this esteemed University, which once again demonstrated that China is determined to strengthen cooperation with developing countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

China and Africa are close-knit community with common interests and common destiny. Both sides need to make joint efforts to realize the goal of green and sustainable development. While advancing sustainable development, China is devoted to expanding China-Africa environmentally friendly cooperation to help Africa enhance the capacity for sustainable development. Green development is one of the China-Africa Ten Major Cooperation Plans. China has made its solemn pledge that in conducting China-Africa cooperation, China will not sacrifice Africa’s ecology and long-term interests. In this regard, China strengthens its own legal system and strictly prohibits import of wildlife from Africa. Chinese government asks overseas Chinese companies to comply with local laws and firmly opposes to the introduction of high energy consuming, high polluting enterprises and backward production capacity into Africa. Not long ago, the China financed and constructed Mombasa-Nairobi railway was inaugurated. For the convenience of the wild animals traversing the railway,Chinese companies built 9 large animal channels at the Tsavo National Park, including 6 large bridge type and 3 culvert type. The net height of the bridge type animal passage is more than 6.5 meters, and a giraffe can pass through without having to bow. It is regarded as a miracle in the world history of bridge construction.

No one can make an exception in the face of climate change. Africa is experiencing unprecedented transformation since thousands of years ago, and also facing a severe challenge of climate change. Don't let the last drop of water turn into a child's tear. Let us work hand in hand to promote China-Africa green development cooperation and contribute our strength to realizing economic prosperity, social progress, beautiful environment and sustainable development.

I wish the International Conference on Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Africa a great success!

Thank you.

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