China can act as a model for developing countries and the wider world by investing in environmentally friendly growth and prioritizing the creation of cleaner energy, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, urging the leaders of the planet’s most populous nation to “serve as the vanguard of tomorrow’s economy.”
Addressing the launch in Beijing for a new energy-saving initiative known as the “Green Lights Project,” Mr. Ban said that China’s recent emergence as the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases meant it was vital for the international community that the country pursues sustainable environmental and economic policies.
“China has an opportunity to blaze a new trail for the world. It has the vision and leadership to create a new clean-energy path to prosperity,” he said, calling on the country to assume a global leadership role.
“By investing in green economy and green growth, your country has an opportunity to leapfrog over decades of traditional development based on high-polluting fuels. The key is prioritizing clean energy, which China has already begun to do, creating new jobs, spurring innovation, and ushering in a new era of global prosperity. In so doing, China can serve as the vanguard of tomorrow’s economy, today.”
The Green Lights Project, which has been jointly organized by the UN and the Chinese Government, is a $14 million programme aimed at promoting the use of energy-saving lamps and phasing out the sale and production of incandescent lamps. It could cut Chinese energy consumption by as much as 8 per cent.
Mr. Ban stressed that countries that take the lead on combating climate change “will reap rewards. They will be winners in the global marketplace. They will be winners at home as the whole of society benefits.”
He said China’s position as a global power meant it had additional responsibilities, particularly regarding the conference in December in Copenhagen, Denmark, convened to approve a global emissions pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012.
Mr. Ban has also scheduled a summit of world leaders at UN Headquarters in New York on 22 September to try to accelerate momentum towards obtaining a deal in Copenhagen.
“Major emerging economies, including China, have taken great strides. I am impressed by China’s efforts. In the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency, for example, remarkable progress is already being made. I urge you to build on this progress, including through energy and carbon intensity targets,” he said.
“Strong signals from China on mitigation actions announced before Copenhagen will help push the negotiating process forward. They can also direct responsibility to other key countries to do more.”
The Secretary-General noted also that trust between rich and poor countries will be essential if countries are to reach an agreed outcome in Copenhagen.
Later Mr. Ban discussed Copenhagen with Chinese President Hu Jintao, while in talks with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao he discussed the climate change mitigation efforts that developing countries can undertake and the role that China can play in helping sub-Saharan African countries achieve the socio-economic targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
Mr. Ban also held extensive talks today with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, with the two men discussing climate change, UN reform, the MDGs, China’s efforts to reduce poverty, the global financial crisis, disarmament, peacekeeping and a series of regional issues, including the situation in Myanmar and recent developments in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
In addition, the Secretary-General addressed the alumni of the UN-China Advanced Leadership Programme, saying that China is making vital progress on the renewable energy front.
China’s renewable energy investments are now second only to that of Germany, Mr. Ban noted, adding that China is well placed to be a leader in what is shaping as one of the main global marketplaces of the future.