, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 28 – At the recently concluded United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) China sought to shake off its association with images of its citizens forced to wear face masks in smog-clouded cities.
Professor He Kebin, Dean of Environment at Tsinghua University — with a reality TV star in tow – gave a presentation on the efforts made over the last 15 years to improve air quality in Beijing.
A report titled Green is Gold outlined how China plans to transform into an eco-civilisation by 2020 through several measures that include: “decreasing water consumption by 23 per cent, energy consumption by 15 per cent and CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 18 per cent.”
And by which time it also plans to grow its forest cover to 23 per cent compared to Kenya’s four.
“China has already made a number of notable achievements,” the report states.
“By the end of 2014, China had built 10.5 billion m2 of energy saving buildings in urban areas — roughly 38 percent of the total area of urban residential buildings.
“In addition, China’s production of new-energy vehicles increased 45 fold between 2011 and 2015. The country has also built the largest air-quality monitoring network in the developing world.”
Outgoing United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner described it as the most, “remarkable transformation,” (environmentally) he’d witnessed of any one country in his 10 years at the helm of UNEP.
“It has essentially moved from an almost exclusive focus on industrialisation, growth of GDP, urbanisation, infrastructure, to become the largest manufacturer of renewable energy on the planet, that is likely to invest the largest amount of public finance into correcting these environmental challenges in its own economy and has remarkably and unusually in its G20 Presidency, taken global leadership by introducing the topic of green finance into the G20 Summit process; having Central Bank Governors and Finance Ministers establish a study group on the transition towards green finance.”
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Closer home, China plans to increase the share of non-fossil fuel energy in primary energy consumption by up to 15 per cent and limit the share of coal consumption by 62 per cent by 2020.
“Building a green manufacturing system that is efficient, clean, low carbon and circular,” Green is Gold reads.
China which has been identified as one of the biggest destination market for ivory and rhino horn has also been keen to disassociate itself from images of slain elephants and poachers.