Reducing carbon dioxide emissions will not inhibit China's economic development but will instead drive the country's economic growth onto a green and sustainable path, experts said.
Xie Zhenhua, special adviser for climate change affairs at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said that Chinese practice over the past decade has showed that positive actions to mitigate climate change will improve the size and quality of the economy.
China's GDP last year was more than four times bigger than in 2005, but carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP decreased by 48.1 percent, according to data from the ministry.
China's GDP last year was more than four times bigger than in 2005, but carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP decreased by 48.1 percent, according to data from the ministry
"Reducing carbon dioxide emissions will not hinder economic growth. Instead, it will create opportunities for the new energy industry and more jobs in the sector," Xie said on Friday at the Beautiful China Forum 100 in Beijing jointly held by the Chinese Society for Environment Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning.
By building a beautiful China, a goal set at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in October, the nation aims to see carbon dioxide emissions fall after peaking by 2030 and make production and lifestyles green throughout society by 2035.
Huang Runqiu, minister of ecology and environment, said that a low-carbon energy system is key to achieving the goal and ensuring sustainable economic growth.
"In the next 15 years, the period of realizing the goal, if we still stick to the high-carbon energy system, economic growth will falter," he said. "However, a greener path will not only energize the growth but also address the root cause of current ecological and environmental problems."
Du Xiangwan, honorary director of China's National Expert Committee on Climate Change, said increasing the use of nonfossil fuels such as wind energy and solar power can realize energy transition.
"To achieve a beautiful China, the country should transform its coal-powered electricity generating system into a nonfossil fuel-powered one and replace petroleum in vehicles with hydrogen," he said.
China is heading toward an energy transition, with data from the ministry showing that nonfossil fuels accounted for 15.3 percent of energy consumption last year, up 7.9 percentage points compared with 2005.
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"The proportion can be bigger to lay a foundation for the transition, with the State Grid Energy Research Institute forecasting it will reach 70 percent in 2050," Du said.
Xie said China is still a developing country, and achieving the transition before a certain time will require more arduous efforts than in a developed country.
"The 'energy revolution' will be an excellent opportunity for our country to achieve high-quality and sustainable development and promote green lifestyles and consumption," he said.
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