By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Environmental delegations from more than 20 countries and regions across the world are gathering in Macau this week to discuss strategies and cooperation as well as to showcase green products and services as an international attempt towards a low emission economy.
The third edition of the annual Macao International Environmental Cooperation Forum & Exhibition (2010MIECF) was unveiled at The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel yesterday and will run until tomorrow featuring keynote speeches, panel discussions, networking events, business matching sessions, forums, seminars, protocols signing and also a “Green Public Day”.
Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On; deputy director general of the Chinese Liaison Office in Macau, Gao Yan; Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry in Macau, Lu Shumin; Secretary for the Environment of Hong Kong, Edward Yau Tang-wah and leading officials from co-organising mainland provinces officiated the opening ceremony.
The Chief Executive said in his welcome speech that the Macau government will continue to formulate different policies and implement various measures in order to meet with the strategies to reduce emissions, “under the common but differentiated responsibilities in combating climate change”.
The Kyoto Protocol has officially taken effect in Macau since early 2008.
“We will strengthen our commitments in protecting the environment, improving infrastructures accordingly as well as upgrading the quality of the environment in order to turn Macau into a sustainable city and ‘global leisure centre for tourism’,” Fernando Chui Sai On said.
“The development of low carbon economy and the promotion of “clean production” will become the focal point of the whole world in the future, which is also going to be a major driving force for sustained recovery in the global economy,” he added.
China’s CO2 reduction target
On the other hand, Sun Zhen, deputy counsel of the Climate Change Department of China, delivered a keynote address on behalf of Xie Zhenhua, vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, in the ceremony.
The representative said that the Chinese government will make constructive efforts as usual and work with other parties to promote comprehensive, well-balanced and binding results at the Cancun conference, further enhancing international cooperation on addressing climate change.
The 16th Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 6th Conference of the Parties under the Kyoto Protocol will be held in Cancun, Mexico towards the end of this year.
“China is one of the countries that are most affected by climate change,” Sun told the guests.
“The average temperature has risen by 1.1 degree in the past 100 years, slightly higher than the global average. Warming has become more prominent in the past 50 years, with obvious changes to the frequency and severity of extreme weather and climate events,” he said.
The recent exceptionally serious droughts in the south-western parts of mainland China, Sun said, are consistent with the government’s projection on an increasing trend of severe droughts in China, especially in the south-western regions.
Hence, he is calling for immediate actions to actively cope with climate change and placing adaptation as the highest priority in vulnerable regions and targeted areas.
As such, China has formulated the National Climate Change Program and adopted a string of policy measures to restructure its economy, enhance energy efficiency, develop clean energy and optimise the energy structure.
“We’re currently working on our 12th Five-Year Plan with an important agenda on adapting to and slowing down climate change,” Sun said.
“We’ll strive to achieve a reduction in the carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 in comparison to the 2005 levels,” he stressed.
However, Sun Zhen made it clear that China’s coal-based engery structure will not change fundamentally and that there will be further growth in the energy demand.
“China is currently in the important stage of industrialization and accelerated urbanization. We face very demanding missions of developing our economy, improving people’s livelihood and protecting the environment,” he said.
“We must rely on fundamental changes to economic development patterns to realize action targets on controlling emissions of green house gases.”
In addition, using green low-carbon technology to reform traditional industries is set to be another strategy in order to bring China onto “the development path of low consumption, low pollution, low emissions, but high output and recyclability”.
Polluted construction banned
Meanwhile, Ren Yong, deputy director general of the Human Resources Management and Institutional Affairs Department also presented a keynote address prepared by Zhou Shengxian, the Environmental Protection Minister of China.
Ren Yong told the guests China has been strictly controlling construction projects with high consumption of energy or resources.
“In 2009, the Ministry of Environmental Protection had approved 400 environmental impact assessment documents with a total investment amount of 2,700 billion yuan,” he said.
“It has returned, rejected or tentatively suspended environmental impact statements of 49 construction projects valuing at 190.48 billion yuan,” he added.
Ren Yong recalled that in 2009, China’s COD discharge and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions went down nearly 10 percent and 13 percent respectively when comparing to the 2005 levels.
Yet, facing increasingly pre-eminent contradictions between economic growth and environmental conservation, the Chinese government has implemented the “promotion of economic restructuring” as the key task of the economic plans in 2010.
In which, the focus will shift from “ensuring economic growth” in 2009 to “facilitating transition” this year.
“For all countries in the world, green economy and low carbon society are only at the beginning and exploration stage. We badly need the exchange of experience in order to find a green development path suitable to each country’s own national conditions,” Ren said.
Calling for long-term efforts, dedications
Advisor to the Czech Prime Minister and former Environment Minister of the Czech Republic, Peter J. Kalas, pointed out that despite the efforts over the past decade, the outcomes of the climate change negotiation process have been “so far insufficient.
“It’s therefore fair to state that we’re still in the initial stages of the climate change journey that will require a long-term, sustained effort of all members of the global community,” Kalas said in his keynote address.
Most developing countries, according to Kalas, won’t be able to fully achieve the development targets of their societies unless they adopt low-emission development strategies and practices “which come at a cost”.
Because of this, he said these countries are in need of international support and access to new, low carbon technology and finance.
“A strong, binding agreement in Mexico [the Cancun conference] is therefore in the best interest of all,” he added.
The ex-Environment Minister stressed that since the Copenhagen climate conference held late last year “failed to adopt a post-Kyoto Protocol regime, further intensive negotiating efforts will be needed during 2010 that should involve all parties including the USA, China and India”.
Day 2 of the 2010MIECF will begin at 9.30am today with two forums respectively on “low-carbon building and eco city” and “clean technology and circular economy”.
The exhibition will also be open to the general public tomorrow, aiming at enhancing and raising their awareness on the importance of environmental conservation.