Copenhagen, 15 December 2009 – As the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen enters the homestretch, government leaders, heads of international organizations, and academics gathered at a side event to debate China’s political and economic shift towards a low carbon model of growth. The event drew upon the preliminary results of China’s forthcoming 2009/10 National Human Development Report entitled China’s Pathway Towards a Low Carbon Economy and Society.
“Any deal reached here in Copenhagen must not only be fair, ambitious, and comprehensive, leading to reductions in emissions and less carbon intensive production and consumption. It must also be a good deal for development too, supporting developing countries to adapt to the impact of climate change, reduce deforestation, and pursue low-emissions and clean energy growth,” said Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator while addressing the event.
The China NHDR 2009/10 is developed by UNDP Country Office in China and Renmin University. One of the findings of this report suggest that some of the more economically advanced provinces in China are the least carbon intensive while those which have a lower income and lower human development indicators have higher carbon emissions patterns.
This indicates that human development does not necessarily need to be accompanied by increases in greenhouse gas emissions. A more sustainable and low carbon development path, and one which is compatible with advancing human development goals, is indeed possible. While past economic and social progress in China and elsewhere has come at a certain cost, including to the environment, future developments can follow a different trajectory.
Khalid Malik, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in China, underscored UNDP’s commitment to helping facilitate China’s progress towards a low carbon model.
“UNDP is collaborating with China in dealing with the challenges of climate change and working towards a green economy, a low-carbon economy, and a circular economy. We are doing this by, for instance, promoting energy efficiency in industry and buildings, and supporting the implementation of the National Climate Change Policy at the local level,” said Malik.
“As it plays an ever more important part in global affairs, China can also play an increasingly important role in advancing sustainable development around the world. China also has the experience and technology available to address challenges in other developing countries, including those related to adapting to and mitigating climate change,” commented Clark.
Other high-level participants in the side event included Mr. Xie Zhenhua, Vice-Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission and Head of the Chinese Delegation, Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California, Zhao Baige, Vice-Minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission in China, Erik Solheim, Minister of Environment and Development for the Government of Norway, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Professor Pan Jiahua, Director of the Centre for Urban Development and Environment at the Chinese Academy of Social Science, Professor Johan Rockstrom, Executive Director of the Stockholm Environmental Institute, Jet Li, renowned actor and Founder of the One Foundation, Prof. Zou Ji, Renmin University and Lead Author of the 2009/10 NHDR, and Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Following the discussions, panelists will participate in a bicycle ride to highlight the importance of using environmentally friendly transportation and advocate for simple solutions to low carbon development.
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