Green Economy the Focus of Chinese Environment Minister's Visit to UNEP ma, jul 11, 2011

China's Minister of Environment Zhou Shengxian today made his first visit to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) where he spoke on international environmental cooperation and the promotion of a Green Economy.

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Minister of Environment Zhou Shengxian and UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner speaking at UNEP's headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi, 11 July 2011 China's Minister of Environment Zhou Shengxian today made his first visit to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) where he spoke on international environmental cooperation and the promotion of a Green Economy.

The Chinese Minister, who is trained as an economist, told the audience at UNEP's headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, that the financial crisis of 2008 has caused the most severe challenge to the world economy since the Great Recession in the 1930s. But the crisis, stressed Mr. Zhou, has also created opportunity for human innovation.

Mr. Zhou, who was welcomed to the meeting by UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, praised UNEP for launching -against the backdrop of the global financial crisis- a "Global Green New deal" and the Green Economy, "In the short term, developing a Green Economy may facilitate economic recovery and create new job opportunities," he told the audience.

"Development of a Green Economy aims at breaking the constraints of resources and the environment's carrying-capacity and at achieving the harmony between economy and the environment," he added.

He said: "In the long-term, developing a Green Economy will promote larger scale, higher level and more sustained development of the economy and society."

The Minister pointed out that China perhaps more than any country needs to develop a Green Economy. The country's economy has experienced impressive double-digit growth for the past decade making it the second largest economy in the world but at the cost of the environment. "The overall environmental degradation has not been curbed and the environmental situation is still grave and the pressure is mounting," he warned.

But China has been working to reverse the degradation. In particular in the past five years the country has made remarkable achievements and has adopted a series of measures to develop a Green Economy. Of the four trillion Yuan economic stimulus package allocated by the Chinese Government to address the international financial crisis, some 580 billion Yuan is in green investment. The country is also developing green industry such as renewable energy and has introduced pilot projects for a low-carbon economy.

And the Chinese Government's efforts are paying off. In the past five years, environmental protection has gained strategic confidence. The emissions reduction targets of major pollutants have been met ahead of schedule. The Government has also enforced environmental law that has shut down over 20,000 enterprises violating the law on discharged pollutants.

Indeed, environmental protection has taken on new importance in China with the launch in March of the 12th Five Year Plan, which sets the country's targets for the 2011-2015 period and which has given prominence to climate change, energy and environmental issues. In the Plan energy consumption and CO2 emissions per unit GDP will drop by 16% and 17%, respectively, by 2015 compared to 2010.

"Environmental protection is the way to development. Given the impact it will have on the population, we would rather slow down the growth rate to protect the environment. At a strategic level, we need to develop our country in a healthy enivironment," he stressed.

 
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