Connect to share and comment

What China expects from the Copenhagen climate talks

An interview with Chinese Ambassador to Switzerland Dong Jinyi.

Chinese Ambassador to Switzerland Dong Jinji discusses the Copenhagen Climate Conference. (William Dowell/GlobalPost)

BERN, Switzerland — The upcoming Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change will be the most important meeting on global warming since Kyoto. China and the United States, which are the two largest energy producers and consumers in the world, will both play key roles in reaching an ultimate solution. With an eye toward Copenhagen, GlobalPost sat down for an hour with China’s ambassador to Switzerland, Dong Jinyi, to discuss China’s expectations for the conference. Here are excerpts from that interview:

GlobalPost: What does China expect to come from the Copenhagen Conference on Climate change?

Dong Jinyi: Climate change is an important problem for China as it is for other countries. It requires the combined efforts of everyone. The Copenhagen conference is very important for the international community, and it is in everyone’s interest that it reaches a conclusion that is positive, balanced and that is acceptable to everyone. China feels that the conference should aim at the effective and sustainable global application of the United Nations’ framework on climate change and the Kyoto protocol. The framework is well-defined and we should advance according to the steps outlined in it. If you want to reach a height, you need a ladder. One step after the other leads to the top.

We do not need to overturn everything and start over from the beginning. We need to build on the base in order to reach concrete results.

GlobalPost: What are the first steps?

Dong Jinyi: The first step was Kyoto and the climate change convention. Now for the second step, the developed industrialized countries need to establish precise indications concerning emissions until 2020. The developing countries also need to reduce emissions based on the concrete reality in each of these countries. Many of these countries are not at the same level of development. Some of them are quite developed, and others have nothing, although they are all affected by climate change. A third consideration is that the countries that have the finances and the technology to deal with the problem need to make that technology and funding available to the developing countries that do not have it. That is extremely important, and we need to have concrete action in this direction. There needs to be the will to accomplish something. It is important that we do not just keep discussing this. We need to act. That is why we feel that Copenhagen must produce results.

GlobalPost: Does China plan to curb its emissions?

Dong Jinyi: We have launched an action plan and we are establishing a fundamental national policy on climate change, which includes mandatory national targets for reducing energy intensity and the discharge of major pollutants, as well as increasing renewable energy. Last year China’s energy use per unit of GDP was 10.1 percent lower than it was in 2005. We are striving to reach the goal of a 20 percent reduction on schedule.

We are also taking concrete measures to limit emissions. For example, we have a trial program to provide 60,000 public transportation vehicles using clean or hybrid energy in 10 major cities. The experiment began in 2008 and will last through 2010. We expect that to reduce gasoline use by 30 percent in these cities.

A second example, we are installing lighting based on semi-conductors in 10 major cities. Over the next three years we will install 6 million energy efficient bulbs that we expect to save a billion kilowatt-hours.

Another project, which will provide solar energy power plants by 2015, will provide an additional 2,500,000 kilowatts of electric power. That project will go until 2020, and then we will build a larger series of solar power plants, which will each produce 50,000 kilowatts of power.

The government is also strongly supporting enterprises manufacturing electric bicycles and vehicles, which are very popular. China hopes to produce at least 15 percent and possibly more of its energy from non-fossil fuels by 2020, and to increase its forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters from the levels in 2005. China will increase its nuclear power output by 40 million kilowatts.