Top emitter China ‘doing things right’ on global warming’: UN climate official

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 January, 2014, 12:28pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 January, 2014, 12:28pm

It may be more known for its smog problems and its sizeable greenhouse gas emissions, but a UN climate change official says China is “doing it right” when it comes to addressing global warming, a report says.

In an interview with Bloomberg at its New York headquarters, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, called China’s energy-efficiency standards for buildings and transportation as “some of the toughest”.

She said the nation was realising that such efforts would pay off in the future.

“They actually want to breathe air that they don’t have to look at. They’re not doing this because they want to save the planet. They’re doing it because it’s in their national interest,” she said in the report.

Figueres, 57, cited the nation’s efforts towards energy efficiency, including helping reduce the cost of solar panels by 80 per cent since 2008 after backing photovoltaic technology, the report said.

Compared to countries like the United States, Figueres also suggested that China could implement policies more smoothly as it faced less legislative stumbling blocks.

Figueres is in charge of guiding more than 190 member-states in a UN-led initiative to draft an international treaty, replacing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, to fight global warming by next year and which will take effect in 2020, the report said.

Figueres expects a draft version of the next year treaty to be discussed at talks in Lima, Peru, in December. Crafting a deal will be facilitated by other countries realising, like China, that curbing climate change will have long-term benefits that offset short-term costs, she said.

China, the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emitter, surpassing the US, has vowed to cut greenhouse gases through projects including the development of Chinese emissions trading schemes as early as 2012.

The nation has been struggling with air pollution problems across the nation, blamed in part on its ramped-up industrial activities amid high-speed economic growth over the past few years.

With additional reporting from Reuters