Remarks at the 15th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting
President of the People's Republic of China
Sidney, Australia, 8 September 2007
The Honorable Prime Minister John Howard,
It gives me great pleasure to meet with you again. I wish to express my sincere thanks to you, Prime Minister Howard, and the Australian Government, for your hospitality.
The overall stable international environment, the acceleration of economic globalization and the rapid progress in technological innovation have presented mankind with a rare opportunity for development. In our Asia-Pacific region, the economy is growing steadily; interactions and interdependence among countries are increasing and our common interests are expanding; and various mechanisms on dialogue and cooperation are active. It is a region full of vigor and vitality. As one of the most dynamic regions with great potentials, the Asia-Pacific region has become an important driving force propelling global economic growth.
On the other hand, our region also faces some uncertainties in its development. Global economic imbalances are getting more serious, trade protectionism is resurfacing, pressure on energy resources is growing, and issues related to eco-environment are more acute. Climate change, which concerns the development and the wellbeing of all the people in our region, has drawn general concern of the Asia-Pacific countries.
Climate change poses a severe challenge to the Asia-Pacific region, but the region also has unique strengths in tackling it. The Asia-Pacific region is highly representative of the world in which we live. It accounts for 42% of the world population, 53% of global economy, and 46% of global trade. It is a region of diversity. The per capita GDP of a highly developed economy has exceeded US$40,000, while that of a developing economy which is in the process of industrialization is just over US$600. It is also a region of strong complementarity. Some members have advanced technologies and adequate financial resources in adapting to and mitigating climate change, while others are in urgent need to improve their capacity to address this issue. APEC members have in recent years launched a number of initiatives and taken steps to tackle climate change, and progress has been made. We should build consensus and conduct cooperation on this basis. This will enable us not only to promote sustainable development in our region but also boost the global efforts to address climate change.
We should act in a highly responsible way for both mankind and the future. We should respect history, address current problems, be future-oriented, carry out practical cooperation and coordinate economic development with environmental protection. To this end, I propose that we take the following steps:
First, tackle climate change through cooperation. Climate change, being a global issue that concerns the interests of all countries, should be addressed through the joint efforts of all countries. In tackling climate change, helping others is helping oneself, and only cooperation can bring about win-win progress. Developed countries should face their historical responsibility and their current high per capita emissions, strictly abide by their emission reduction targets set forth in the Kyoto Protocol, honor their commitment on making technology transfer and providing financial support to developing countries, and continue to take the lead in reducing emissions after 2012. Developing countries should, in light of their national conditions, take due measures including introducing and applying advanced clean technologies, to improve the capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change and contribute their share to tackling climate change.
Second, pursue sustainable development. Climate change is ultimately a development issue, and it can only be addressed in the course of sustainable development. Sustainable development requires coordinated progress in economic growth, social development and environmental protection. It is undesirable either to stop development for fear of climate change or seek growth in disregard of climate change. We should ensure that both production and consumption are compatible with sustainable development. We should improve energy mix, upgrade industries, promote low-carbon economy, build an energy-conserving and environment-friendly society and thus address the root cause of climate change.
Third, uphold the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as the core mechanism for addressing climate change. The Convention and its Kyoto Protocol constitute the legal basis of international cooperation on climate change and are the most authoritative, universal and comprehensive international framework for addressing climate change. The principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" established by the Convention recognizes differences among countries in economic development, historical responsibility and the current level of per capita emissions. This principle represents the consensus of the international community and forms the basis of international cooperation. The Convention and the Protocol should be upheld as the core mechanism and main channel for addressing climate change, and the principle established in the Convention should be taken as the guiding principle for addressing climate change.
Fourth, promote scientific and technological innovation. Science and technology are important means for tackling climate change. We should raise the capacity for and level of scientific and technological innovation and follow a path of development which is high-tech driven, produces sound economic returns, low in consumption of resources and causes low pollution to the environment. This is the only way to ensure balanced progress in economic development and environmental protection and achieve sustainability. We should step up research and development as well as the application of energy efficient technologies, environmental protection technologies and low carbon energy technologies, increase capital investment in these areas, and boost technological cooperation and transfer of technologies. We should intensify personnel training, improve protection of intellectual property rights, bring into full play the initiatives of all parties and raise our overall capacity to jointly address climate change.
Forest protection has an important role to play in addressing climate change. From 1980 to 2005, China made tremendous efforts to carry out afforestation and strengthen the rehabilitation and management of forests and it has developed expertise in this respect. We are ready to share such expertise with other APEC members. I propose the Asia-Pacific Network on Forest Rehabilitation and Sustainable Management be set up. This will provide a platform for APEC members to share best practices, conduct policy dialogue, carry out personnel training on forest rehabilitation and management, and work together to promote rehabilitation and growth of forests, increase carbon sink and mitigate climate change in the Asia Pacific region. We welcome other APEC members to join this network.
China has always taken climate change very seriously. We have set up the National Leading Group on Addressing Climate Change, enacted a series of laws and regulations, and formulated the National Program on Addressing Climate Change. We have contributed our share to mitigating global greenhouse gas emissions by taking a series of policy measures, including adjusting the economic structure, improving energy mix, raising energy efficiency, carrying out afforestation and practicing family planning. Between 1991 and 2005, the total energy saved in China amounted to 800 million tons of standard coal, equivalent to 1.8 billion tons of CO2 emission reduction. Thanks to the policy of family planning China has pursued since the 1970s, its population growth has been lowered by more than 300 million, equivalent to 1.2 billion tons of annual CO2 emission reduction.
China is still a developing country with a large population and relatively low level of economic development. China's energy demand is expected to increase owing to accelerated industrialization and urbanization as well as rising standard of living. China is confronted with a huge challenge in tackling climate change, as its main source of energy is coal and its industrial structure is not balanced. We will fully implement the National Program on Addressing Climate Change and endeavor to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen our capacity to adapt to climate change as we pursue economic development. China has set the targets of reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20% and discharge of main pollutants by 10% and raising forest coverage from 18.2% to 20% between the end of 2005 and 2010. To effectively tackle climate change, China follows the scientific thinking on development, takes resource conservation and environmental protection as a basic state policy, gives high priority to achieving harmonious development of man and nature, and works to strike a balance among economic growth, population, resources and the environment. We are pursuing a sound development strategy that promotes production, makes life better for the people and protects the environment. We have taken sustainable development as an important objective for China's economic and social development and incorporated policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change into the national plan for economic and social development so as to tackle climate change in a coordinated and holistic manner. We will give full play to the leading and basic role of scientific and technological innovation in mitigating and adapting to climate change, strengthen capacity for independent innovation, and vigorously develop new and renewable energies, energy efficient technologies, carbon absorption technologies and various adaptation technologies. We will launch a nation-wide publicity campaign on climate change to raise public awareness of energy efficiency and emission reduction, and encourage everyone to take action to help mitigate and adapt to climate change. China will continue to advance and involve itself in international cooperation on climate change. We will take an active part in negotiation within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the activities of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, and promote international cooperation on the clean development mechanism and technology transfer. We are involved in the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate and other mechanisms and support them in playing a necessary supplementary role.
In short, we are committed to working with you to build a clean, harmonious and dynamic Asia-Pacific region and ensure its sustainable future.