Statement: China's Climate Action Program

Statement by Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

June 4, 2007

With its new national climate change strategy, and the establishment of a new National Leading Group headed by Premier Wen Jiabao, the Chinese leadership is signaling that it recognizes the critical importance of this issue to China and to other nations. The new strategy underscores the severe environmental and economic risks China faces in a warming world and outlines a broad array of government policies that are helping to moderate the growth of China's greenhouse gas emissions. These include ambitious energy efficiency and renewable energy goals and programs that reduce emissions from industry, agriculture, and forestry. Without these policies, China's emissions would be far higher than they are today.

However, much stronger action is needed to slow, stop, and reverse China's rapid emissions growth. When the United States caps its own greenhouse gas emissions, it will have begun to fulfill the commitment it made with other developed countries to lead the climate effort. It will then be reasonable to expect that China and other major emerging economies fulfill their responsibilities as well.

Our aim must be a new set of multilateral commitments ensuring that each of the major economies contributes its fair share to the global climate effort. The post-2012 framework should be flexible so that countries can take on different types of commitments. For developing countries, rather than economy-wide emissions targets, these could be "policy commitments" - China, for instance, could initially commit to strengthen its existing efficiency and renewables policies. But all commitments must be credible, binding, and closely monitored. Only through a balanced set of commitments and incentives can we hope to mobilize the efforts needed to dramatically reduce emissions in China and around the world.

 

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