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UN Climate Change Summit Opens in New York Hu Jintao Attends the Opening Ceremony and Delivers an Important Speech

2009/09/23

On September 22, 2009, Chinese President Hu Jintao attended the opening ceremony of the United Nations Climate Change Summit at the UN headquarters in New York and delivered an important speech there. He stressed that China attaches great importance to and actively promotes the people-oriented as well as comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable scientific development. China has clearly defined the major strategic task of building ecological civilization. We pursue the basic national policy of resource conservation and environmental protection, stick to the path of sustainable development and have contributed continuously to tackling climate change in the process of accelerating the building of a resource-saving and environment-friendly society and an innovation-oriented country.

The Summit opened at the General Assembly Hall of the UN Headquarters at about 9:10 a.m. local time. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chaired the opening ceremony. The Summit aims at mustering the political consensus on and injecting the political impetus into the UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark in December. After Ban Ki-moon addressed the opening ceremony, Hu Jintao, national leaders of other countries as well as representatives from different sectors delivered speeches.

Amid warm applauses, Hu delivered an important speech entitled Working Together to Meet Challenges of Climate Change. He pointed out that global climate change has a profound impact on the existence and development of mankind and is a major challenge faced by all countries. Climate change is an issue which has emerged in the process of human development. It is influenced not only by natural factors but also by human activities. It is an environment issue, but more importantly a development one. It's closely linked with various factors like the development stage, lifestyle, population size and resource endowment of countries and the international division of labor. In the last analysis, we should and can only tackle climate change in the course of development and solve it through common development.

Hu stressed that to address climate change is a matter involving the common interests of the world and more importantly the development interests and welfare of the people of the developing countries. In the course of fighting against climate change, we should take into full account their development stages and basic requirements. The international community should pay attention to the difficulties of the developing countries, especially the small island states, the least developed countries, the landlocked nations and the African countries, listen to their voice, respect their aspirations and closely combine the effort of handling climate change with that of advancing their development, motivating their inner vigor and raising their sustainable development capacity.

He pointed out that it is our pressing as well as long-term task to cope with climate change and achieve sustainable development. It has deep impact on the environment of human existence and the prospects of national development and calls for relentless efforts of all countries. We should adhere to the following principles when joining hands to tackle climate change.

First, the core is to fulfill respective responsibilities by the developed and developing countries. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities embodies the consensus of the international community. Adherence to this principle is critical to keeping the international efforts of coping with climate change on the right track. Both the developed and developing countries should actively deal with climate change and implement the Bali Roadmap negotiations as required by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol. The developed countries should fulfill the task of emission reduction set in the Kyoto Protocol, continue to work hard to achieve the quantitative medium-term emission reduction targets and support the developing countries' efforts of fighting climate change. The developing countries should also try to adapt to climate change and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible according to their national conditions and with the financial and technological support from the developed countries.

Second, the goal is to achieve mutual benefit and a win-win outcome. Climate change is not confined by boundary and no country is immune from its impact. To meet the challenge requires the international community to help one another and make concerted efforts. It is the obligation and serves the interests of the developed countries to support the developing ones in coping with climate change. We should build the concept that to help others is to help ourselves, achieve a win-win outcome for both the developed and developing countries and safeguard the interests of all countries and the entire mankind.

Third, to promote common development is the foundation. The developing countries should coordinate their efforts of advancing economic growth, social development and environmental protection, build the capacity of sustainable development and get rid of the old path of pollution first and treatment second. Meanwhile, they should not be asked to undertake the obligations beyond their development stages, due responsibilities and actual capacity. In the long run, without the common development of all countries, especially the development of the developing countries, it will be impossible to build an extensive and solid foundation to tackle climate change.

Fourth, the key is to ensure availability of fund and technologies. The developed countries should take responsibility for providing the developing ones with new, additional, adequate and expectable financial support since it is a joint investment in the future of mankind. Climate-friendly technologies should better serve the interests of all human beings. We should establish a government-led positive interaction mechanism with enterprise participation and market operation in order to ensure full access of the developing countries to the climate-friendly technologies.

Hu noted that China will further integrate the efforts of handling climate change into its economic and social development planning and continue to take strong measures. First, China will step up efforts to conserve energy and improve energy efficiency and strive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by a considerable margin by 2020 from the 2005 level; second, China will energetically develop the renewable energy and nuclear energy and try to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in the primary energy consumption to around 15% by 2020; third, China will vigorously increase forest carbon sinks and work hard to increase forest area by 40 million hectares and forest reserves by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 from the 2005 levels; fourth, China will spare no efforts to develop the green economy, low-carbon economy and circular economy and strengthen the R&D and dissemination of climate-friendly technologies.

He finally noted that the world expects us to make a choice on climate change which is a matter of existence and development of mankind. He expressed confidence that the Copenhagen conference will become a new landmark in the course of international cooperation on climate change so long as we face the reality and focus on the future in an attitude of being responsible for our own countries and the human society as well. China is willing to work with other countries to create a better future for generations to come.

His speech received positive response in the leaders and delegates present at the summit. The audience applauded enthusiastically after he ended the speech.

Addressing the ceremony, Ban Ki-moon stressed the fact that so many national leaders attended this largest-ever summit itself demonstrates the seriousness of climate change faced by the entire mankind. He appealed to all countries to make concerted efforts to reach agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible before the Copenhagen conference to be held in December. He called on the developed countries to take the lead in finalizing the emission reduction target before 2020 and provide financial and technological support for the developing countries. The developing countries should take steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions while trying to achieve sustainable development. He said that the agreement to be reached at the Copenhagen conference will produce benign radiation effects on the global trade and the international cooperation on energy, security and health.

US President Obama said in his speech that the developed nations caused much of the damage to our climate over the last century and still have a responsibility to lead. They have the responsibility for providing the developing countries with technological and financial support and helping them adapt to climate change. They should help developing nations to leap-frog dirty energy technologies and reduce dangerous emissions by sharing their know-how. We face pressing challenges.

Leaders and representatives of some countries also addressed the ceremony, noting that the whole world is facing the severe challenges of climate change and human beings have already been threatened by natural disasters caused by climate change. We cannot ensure the Copenhagen conference full success unless the developed and developing countries adhere to the status of main channels of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and the authorization of the Bali Roadmap. We hold this high-level meeting on climate change today in order to strengthen solidarity and coordination, demonstrate our political will of coping with climate change, inject political impetus into the Copenhagen conference and ensure the conference will enter into fair and just agreements.

Wang Qishan and Dai Bingguo were also present at the event.

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