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China leads with policy on climate change and fossil fuel depletion

United Kingdom
Financial Times
From Mr Jorgen Henningsen. Former Director, DG Environment, European Commission

Copenhagen, Denmark

Sir, Your article “China feels strain in rush to save energy” (October 19), on the implications of China’s efforts to achieve its 20 per cent energy intensity reduction target, and the associated editorial “China’s low-energy plan” are likely to be read by the Chinese as offensive – and with good reason.

Without questioning the correctness of the specific cases reported, it appears that the article misses the key point: that, among all major economies, China has taken a clear lead in pursuing the type of policies, such as energy efficiency, renewable or nuclear, necessary to address climate change and future fossil fuel depletion.

It has to be recalled that, during negotiations of the Climate Convention (1992) and the Kyoto Protocol (1997), there was broad international agreement that developing countries, including China, should not be committed to quantitative targets. Since then, industrialised countries, the US and several others, have been very relaxed in their attitude to their commitments, unless those could be met without any significant effort, let alone sacrifice.

You are right in pointing out that cutting energy intensity is often a poor substitute for capping emissions. However, in the specific case of China, capping of overall emissions would be particularly demanding. First, China has indirectly relieved countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development of part of their CO2 burden through taking over production of many of our goods; second, where many developed countries have seen their emissions move closer to their targets during the economic recession, China has managed to maintain a healthy economic growth. The relevance of this is becoming evident from a recent report from the European Environment Agency, demonstrating that the much celebrated European Union 20 per cent reduction target by 2020 was in fact achieved last year if one takes into account the contribution from emission reductions bought in through the Clean Development Mechanism.

The air pollution situation in Beijing – and many other Chinese cities – is well known. But the sarcastic comment in your editorial about how the Chinese were allowed, for once, to see what blue skies are really like during the 2008 Olympics is neither fair nor helpful. Constructive co-operation with the “smokestack economy” of China is becoming more necessary by the day. Western media have an important role to play in that.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.


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