A haze blanketed cities across China as President Xi Jinping arrived for the opening day of the two-week United Nations summit in Paris. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Leaders from 150 countries convened for the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, hoping to forge an international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and avoid a catastrophe caused by climate change.
The kind of determination the international community has shown in fighting against terrorist attacks that hit the French capital last month is also needed for the global war against climate change.
On the opening day of the Paris climate talks, which began on November 30 and will last through December 11, Beijing suffered its worst air pollution of the year, which forced the municipal government to issue a rare orange alert for heavy smog, the second-highest rating of hazard levels. Besides Beijing, the heavy smog also choked northern China including Tianjin, Hebei, Henan and Shandong, triggering public criticism of the government's inability to combat air pollution on China's social media platforms.
At the opening ceremony of the Paris climate conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech, saying that he will let the world see China's responsibility and leading role in dealing with climate change.
In his remarks, Xi said that the Paris climate talks, which are held for the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and for the signing of a comprehensive, balanced, enforceable and binding climate agreement, should target to strengthen the global bid to tackle climate change after 2020 and to promote the world's sustainable development. In addition to the governments, the president also called on enterprises and non-governmental organizations to join in the global effort to combat climate change.
As China is increasingly becoming the largest country in using new and renewable energy, Xi announced at the climate change conference China's plan to peak its carbon dioxide emissions around 2030, when carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP will be lowered by 60-65 percent from the 2005 level, the forest stock volume will be increased by 4.5 billion cubic meters from 2005 and the share of non-fossil fuels energy consumption will be raised to 20 percent.
In the context of the fast-changing international political and economic structure, China has changed its attitude toward the global climate talks, shifting its focus from emissions intensity to emissions peak. It also begins to seek South-South cooperation rather than asking for financial support from the developed countries.
During his state visit to the United States in September, Xi announced that China will establish a 20-billion-yuan South-South cooperation fund to help other developing countries cope with climate change.
China's rapid economic growth of the last three decades, which left the environmental protection ignored, has brought to the surface problems of environmental pollution and food safety. The air pollution has seriously affected Chinese people's life and China's international image, and it is high time to declare a war on it.
Undoubtedly, ecological civilization and low-carbon production have become the decisive impetus for China's development. Deepening reforms and transforming the economic development pattern in a sustainable fashion are the only way to meet Chinese people's fundamental interest. As the world's second-largest economy and the biggest greenhouse gas emitter, China's every step in coping with climate change is of great importance to the whole world.
No matter what agreements will be sealed at the Paris climate talks, history will record China's effort in protecting the earth.
(The article is translated by Ding Yi.)