Climate change

19th Party Congress: Xi Jinping affirms China’s commitment on green development

A poster with a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping overlooks a street in Huangshan, Anhui province, China, on Sept 16, 2017. Mr Xi, on Oct 18, 2017, vows to keep up the country's years-long battle against smog to ensure "blue skies" and promote a revolution in clean energy. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday (Oct 18) affirms China's committment in doubling up on green development, in line with his idea of a "new model of modernisation".

Mr Xi stressed that China must pursue a model of sustainable development featuring increased production, higher living standards and healthy ecosystems, reiterating his often-mentioned refrain of "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets".

"The modernisation that we pursue is one characterised by harmonious co-existence between man and nature," said the top leader to more than 2,300 delegates and guests at the 19th national congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

In his wide-ranging 3.5-hour work report delivered at the Great Hall of the People, Mr Xi laid out plans to promote green development, and tackle pollution and implement more robust regulations to protect the environment.

Green development was included in the CCP's Constitution for the first time at the 18th Party Congress five years ago.

Mr Xi's predecessor, Mr Hu Jintao, had said at the previous congress that the party will "work hard to build a beautiful country, and achieve lasting and sustainable development of the Chinese nation".

The government under Mr Xi has placed higher priority on cleaning up the smoggy skies, dirty rivers and intoxicated soils.

Facing increasing anger from the population, Mr Xi and other Chinese leaders have vowed to bring blue skies back to to the heavily polluted cities, especially the capital city of Beijing.

While the central government has punished more than 6,000 local officials for negligence or malpractice in environmental protection work in 2016, it still faces difficulties in getting local governments to enforce environmental laws and regulations.

Environmental Protection Minister Li Ganjie said earlier this month that China may miss its annual targets for fighting smog this year.

Other than fighting pollution, Mr Xi's government had also placed greater emphasis on clean energy.

Hydro, wind, solar and nuclear energy accounted for 20 per cent of the country's total energy consumption in 2016, up from 14.5 per cent in 2012.

In April, the government had announced that it aims to have one in every five cars sold in China to run on alternative fuel by 2025.

During Mr Xi's first term, green financing has also been promoted.

In June, five pilot zones in the provinces of Guangdong, Guizhou, Jiangxi, and Zhejiang, as well as the Xinjiang region, were launched to promote green finance. Banks in those regions will be given incentives to lend to firms in environmentally friendly sectors.

"We encourage simple, moderate, green and low-carbon ways of life, and oppose extravagance and excessive consumption," Mr Xi said on Wednesday.

"We will launch initiatives to make the party and government offices do better when it comes to conservation, and develop eco-friendly families, schools, communities and transport services," he added.

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