Chinese President Hu Jintao was calling on all countries to actively take on the burden of tackling global warming when addressing the UN climate change summit held on September 22 in New York.
JOINT DECISION: The UN climate change summit opens on September 22 at UN headquarters in New York (SHEN HONG)
The summit, inspired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, was held to urge world leaders to offer political guidance for international negotiations on climate change, and to reach new greenhouse gas emission agreements ahead of the UN conference on climate change in December 2009 in Copenhagen.
The Copenhagen climate change summit will be the largest international meeting on climate change in UN history, with all 192 UN members participating, including more than 90 heads of state and government officials.
Echoing the summit agenda, the Chinese President delivered an opening speech stating Beijing's sense of urgency on the issue. "Climate change," Hu said, "has a profound impact on the existence and development of mankind and is a major challenge facing all countries."
Moreover, President Hu stressed, climate change is not just an environmental issue, but more importantly, a development issue. To this end, he noted that all nations must join hands in dealing with these issues.
Hu went on to offer a blueprint for a number of principles with which to solidify international cooperation.
They include fulfilling respective responsibilities, achieving mutual benefits, promoting common development and ensuring fair balance in financing and technology. Without these, he added, the initiative will not be fully successful.
It is a principle "critical to keeping international cooperation on climate change on the right track," Hu added.
According to a recently released World Bank report "World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change," industrial nations have been the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions—and, thus, climate change—over the past 200 years of industrial development and wealth creation.
The report said developing nations now represent the major victims of climate change—on the receiving end of 75 to 80 percent of the environmental damage caused by carbon emissions and greenhouse gases.
Although climate change brings serious damage to developed countries, they are better equipped to handle the problem than less-industrialized ones because of their financial strength.
The report implied developed nations must set better examples soon, and make more efforts when it comes to emissions reduction. Meanwhile, developing countries should choose low-carbon development as a mechanism to promote development and reduce poverty, with the precondition of developed countries offering them financing and technology assistance.
President Hu also said "developed countries should fulfill the task of emissions reduction set in the Kyoto Protocol and support developing countries in countering climate change."
Although it is not developed countries' outright responsibility, supporting developing countries can serve the long-term interests of industrialized nations if they extend financing and technology assistance to developing countries in tackling climate change.
"Without common development, particularly the development by developing countries, there cannot be a broad and solid basis in the long run for tackling climate change," stressed the Chinese President.
This was a highly anticipated part of the summit, not least because China is the biggest developing country in the world—and its stance on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions have long been the subject of international focus.
At the press conference of the Chinese delegation to the UN climate change summit, Xie Zhenhua, Vice Minister of China's National Development and Reform Commission, promised that the country would be playing an active and constructive role in dealing with climate change.
Xie noted that, by taking 2005 as a baseline year, China's per-unit gross domestic product (GDP) energy consumption had decreased 47 percent from 1990. At the same time, he added, by 2010, China will succeed in its goal of seeing a 20-percent decrease per-unit GDP in energy consumption over 2005.