28 january 2010

[A Chinese person working for a Western NGO has circulated, through the email of the Climate Action Network, this official Chinese response to the UN request for commitments under the provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Although the Copenhagen Accord is not mentioned in the letter, the date of the letter and its contents indicate that it is also a statement of commitments under the last minute agreement signed by most of the nations participating in the Copenhagen Climate Conference of last December.

The Accord recognized (we quote the Wikipedia summary) that "deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science (IPCC AR4)", that cooperation was needed in peaking global and national greenhouse gas emissions "as soon as possible", and that "a low-emission development strategy is indispensable to sustainable development". The Accord further stipulated that signatory nations would strive to keep global warming to a maximum of 2.C, to peak GHG emissions as soon as possible, and to report their plans to reach these goals to the UN by January 31. Developed countries were to finance a fund to assist mitigation and adaptation of developing ones, amounting to 30 billion dollars for the period 2010-2012 and rising to 100 billion per year by 2020. Developing countries were to implement mitigation actions to slow the growth of their greenhouse gases. In addition, actions to halt deforestation were mandated.

The Chinese response - whether or not it specifically mentions the Accord it agreed to in Copenhagen - is encouraging, but those aware of the 10% annual growth rate of the Chinese economy will realize that the it will nonetheless be considerably increasing its GHG emissions - already the highest in the world for a single nation - until well after 2020. While the Chinese government justifies this state of affairs by pointing out that the per capita emissions of China are still far below those of the U.S. or the EU, one can question whether the unsustainable and highly dangerous level of consumption in the West is something the Chinese should be using as a standard.

28 January 2010
Executive Secretary
UNFCCC Secretariat
Bonn, Germany
Fax: +49-228-8151997

Dear Mr. Yvo de Boer,

I have the honor to communicate to you the information on China’s autonomous domestic mitigation actions as announced, for information to the UNFCCC Parties, as follows:

China will endeavor to lower its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% by 2020 compared to the 2005 level, increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 15% by 2020 and increase forest coverage by 40 million hectares and forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 from the 2005 levels.

Please note that the above-mentioned autonomous domestic mitigation actions are voluntary in nature and will be implemented in accordance with the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC, in particular Article 4, paragraph 7.

This Communication is made in accordance with the provisions of Articles 12, paragraph 1(b), Article 12, paragraph 4 and Article 10, paragraph 2(a).

Sincerely yours,
SU Wei
Department of Climate Change
National Development and Reform Commission of China
(National Focal Point)

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