30 March 2011 – China Reform Commission Vice Chairman Xied Zhenhua, spoke at a media conference at the Australian National University, Canberra on climate change today.

Following are highlights of the transcript from the office of Federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet.

Xie Zhenhua, speaking through an interpreter:

Pilot projects
For the low carbon pilots in China we selected places with different development stages and the resource endowment in mid, central, western, eastern and north China.

Now we are still in the stage of formulating the plans of developing low carbon economies in these pilot cities and provinces.  After our drafting and assessment of these plans, we will gradually implement these plans in these places.  By formulating these plans, we take into consideration of different requirements of these localities.

For example, we consider the transformation of the development pattern of these places and the requirements for readjustments of the economic structure, the industrial structure and also the energy mix of these places, and the capacity of developing renewable energy of these places and the requirement for developing recycling economy after we decide on the plans and we will gradually implement in these localities.

Sustainable development
China is still a developing country.  The purpose for us to carry out these low carbon pilots is to encourage sustainable development.  I think China, Australia and the rest of the world are the same because we are facing restraint or limited resources, energy and environment capacity, but we have to meet the unlimited demand of the people for resources and the cultural life.

So it is necessary for us to embark on a recycling economy road, low carbon and a green development road.  So the purpose for us is to encourage the development of sustainable development.

Now we are still in the process of formulating the plans for developing low carbon economies in these pilot cities and provinces.  Once the plans is approved by the people’s congress of different localities they will be legally binding and all the enterprises individuals will abide by these plans that formulated and approved by the people’s congress.
As to the price and how much price we will pay, we will know after we have these plans approved.

Carbon trading
I think the purpose for the carbon trading scheme is to maximise the reduction of the emission at lowest cost to achieve a sustainable development rather than to add burdens for the enterprises.

Nuclear power
China now has set the target of achieving the [unclear] of accounting for 15 per cent in the primary energy consumption by the year 2020. Among which the hydro power and the nuclear power will account for the majority of this proportion and we will also vigorously develop wind power and solar power.

The nuclear development policy of China will remain unchanged. Now we have an installed capacity of nuclear power of 10 gigawatts and now there are still 30 gigawatts of installed capacity of nuclear power under construction and we plan to build 30 to 4 gigawatts of capacity of nuclear power more in the future.

Now in the process of developing our nuclear energy, we witness the… the Japanese nuclear accident. I believe this accident will have some impact of the development of nuclear, not only to China, but also to the rest of the world.

As you know, the nuclear power plant in Japan actually was built 40 years ago which used two generation nuclear technology. But for China, we mainly use the two generation plus or three generation technology. Even so, we are now carrying out safety review of the nuclear power plants which is in operation now to ensure 100 per cent safety of these power plants.

At the same time, we are going to carry out a geological survey for the nuclear power plants which are under construction. At the same time, we are going to re-check these safety situations of the nuclear power plants we are going to build in the future.

For example, we are going to check whether the localities we have selected is correct or appropriate or not.

And now we are still doing work of improving the management and monitoring plan for the nuclear safety in China to improve the capacity for the safety of nuclear power plants in China. On the basis of doing all the above mentioned work, we will further improve the nuclear development plan in China.

I think that the nuclear development plan of China will be a factor to a certain extent.

Difficulties
Now we are also facing some difficulties in developing non fossil energy in China. For example, to develop a hydro energy we have to face the issues of ecological protection and also the replacement of the people in those localities. So this gave rise to the high cost of building hydro powered plants.

To develop nuclear energy, we are facing the challenge of safety. We have to ensure one hundred per cent of these nuclear power plants and to develop wind energy and solar energy we also face the high cost issue. We hope the developed countries can transfer the technologies that they have developed and can share the existing knowledge and technologies with the developing countries, so that we can achieve maximum C02 emission reduction with lowest cost.

Although we are facing so many difficulties in developing the non fossil energy, yet our determination is solid.

Renewable energy
To develop renewable energy requires a high stability of the power grade, so that we have to develop smart grade. Yesterday through our dialogue, we know that Australia has advanced technology in the development of smart grade. So I hope that we can enhance our cooperation in this regard.

On climate change negotiations on Copenhagen in response to a question from Joanna McCarthy, from Radio Australia: “My question is for the Vice Chairman. The Copenhagen talks were unable to [agree on a] successor to the Kyoto protocol and China’s objections were reported to be one of the major reasons for that. Does China think that a new international [unclear] is possible, and what could it [unclear]?”

In climate change negotiation, I should say that I have been serving [us very hard] of the Chinese delegation since Bali conference in 2007. I know quite clearly about what is going on and I think what you have said is not in-line with the fact. I can review what has happened in Bali, in Copenhagen, in [unclear] and Cancun.

In the climate change international negotiation process, I believe now a very good legal basis has been founded. That is now we have UN [FCCC] Kyoto Protocol, Bali Action Plan, Copenhagen Accord and also Cancun agreement in place. In all these agreements or accords, I think they show the two-track negotiation mechanism under convention and Kyoto Protocol and adhere to the principals of common but differentiated responsibilities, as well as the principle of equity.

According to the current legal framework, the developed countries should take the lead to reduce their emissions substantially and also provide technological and financial support for developing countries to increase the capacity of developing countries in tackling climate change. With the support of finance and the technologies, the developing countries should also actively engage in adaption and emission reduction. These are the principles set in this current legal framework.

According the requirement of the current legal framework, we have set up the long-term target of temperature rise below two centigrade and the developed countries, according to the scientific proposal by IPCC, should reduce their emission by twenty-five to forty per cent, on the basis of the year 1990. Before the year 2012, the developed countries should provide US$10 billion per year and US$30 billion US dollars altogether. After the year 2012, the developed countries should provide US$100 billion as long-term fund.

With the support of the finance and the technology, the developed countries should engage in active adaptation and mediation actions. These are specific requirements outlined in the above mentioned legal framework. During the Copenhagen Accord, at the beginning the conference was criticised by various parties. The reason that we do not reach an agreement during the Copenhagen Accord, is that we do not follow a multilateral negotiation mechanism during this conference.

The principles of transparency, openness, broad participation and agreement upon the coordination is not followed or is violated.
So, all the parties are not satisfied with this. That’s the reason why we only reach a political consensus – the Copenhagen Accord – rather than agreement during this meeting.  Even [so] the Chinese delegation has made very permanent contribution to the result of this Copenhagen conference because during the conference, some developed countries raised extra requirements. They said that the actions of China should be reviewed otherwise they will not provide finance and technology to developing countries.

In order to safeguard the overall process, in order to safeguard the fast start fund and also long-term fund for developing countries, Chinese delegation agreed that the actions of developing countries should be subjected to MRV. The capital and the technology accepted by developing countries should be subjected to MRV and the voluntary actions of developing countries should be subjected to international consultation and analysis. Due to the effort of the Chinese delegation, we witness the final formulation of the Copenhagen Accord. The fundamental reason for not having an agreement during the Copenhagen accord is that the multilateral negotiation mechanism is not adhered to.

Without the support and commitment of capital and finance from the developed countries during the Copenhagen conference, Premier of China announced that to the year 2020, China will reduce its CO2 emission by 40 to 45  per cent…and  increase its non fossil fuel proportion in the primary energy to 15 per cent. Also, other targets related to carbon, [unclear] of carbon synch and et cetera. China also expressed the willingness to provide support and assistance to the island countries, African countries and at least the developing countries through South to South Cooperation to increase their capacities of tackling climate change. I think that the proposals made by China is quite constructive during the Copenhagen conference. The actions of China actually are taken.

During the Cancun conference, the focal issue is about Kyoto Protocol and the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol. Also, the issue about the basic principles of MRV and ICA As to these issues, China adopted flexible attitude and we set up – China adopted a flexible attitude toward the issue of the principles of MRV and ICA but Japan and some other countries refused to accept the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which became barriers of the success of the Cancun conference.

Finally, it was the joint effort of all the parties; we adhere to the principles of the Kyoto Protocol, the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol and also there should be no gap between the first and the second commitment periods of Kyoto Protocol. I think with the result of Cancun conference, we safeguard the main directions outlined by Bali roadmap and also the two track negotiation mechanism.

During the overall process, China has been playing a very active and constructive role.  In the Devon conference which will take place at the end of this year, we hope that all the parties can make appropriate compromise and enhance our mutual trust to adhere to the second commitment period of Kyoto protocol and we can find a solution of addressing the second commitment period on the one hand and also address the issues of adaptation, mitigation, finance, technology, MRV and forest to further promote the overall process.