Paris climate agreement: China

Delegation 'showed spirit of responsibility'

This photo taken on Sep 17, 2015, shows a Chinese labourer sorting out plastic bottles for recycling in Dong Xiao Kou village, on the outskirt of Beijing.
This photo taken on Sep 17, 2015, shows a Chinese labourer sorting out plastic bottles for recycling in Dong Xiao Kou village, on the outskirt of Beijing.PHOTO: AFP

The Chinese government, state media and experts have hailed the country's contribution towards the climate change accord as a reflection of it being a responsible major power.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that Chinese President Xi Jinping, who attended the opening of the Paris conference, had provided important political guidance in his speech that outlined China's stance on deepening international cooperation against climate change.

"The Chinese delegation also participated in the negotiations with a spirit of responsibility, cooperation and a constructive mindset, which contributed significantly to the agreement being reached. This fully shows that China has fulfilled its responsibility as a big country on the climate change issue," Mr Hong said in a statement released on the ministry's website yesterday morning.

The triumphant rhetoric yesterday was in contrast to the defensive tone exhibited by China on Friday, in response to reports that it was the obstacle towards an agreement being reached that day. Such talk evoked memories of the 2009 climate change conference in Copenhagen, where Chinese delegates were reportedly uncooperative, leading to a weak agreement being inked.

Chinese state media on Friday published lengthy reports outlining the country's contributions towards fighting climate change, such as Mr Xi's pledge to cut the country's carbon emissions and increase non-fossil fuel sources by 20 per cent, and peak its emissions - all by 2030.

China is one of the top three carbon emitters, along with the United States and India.

Observers say China has stepped up its fight against climate change in view of the rising impact on its economy and businesses.

Climate change experts Zhang Xiaochen and Chai Qimin, writing in a commentary for the China Daily on Saturday, said many companies in China are exposed to the risks of rising sea levels, floods and tropical storms.

They pointed out that natural disasters since 2000 have cost China 1 per cent of its gross domestic product, which is eight times higher than the global average.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2015, with the headline 'Delegation 'showed spirit of responsibility''. Print Edition | Subscribe