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China aims for "ecological civilization"

Source:   Time:

GUIYANG, July 17 (Xinhua) -- China, the world's second largest economy, is stepping up its efforts to achieve "ecological civilization," officials and experts said at a world eco-forum that ended Sunday.

Altogether 14 Chinese provinces are striving to build themselves into "eco-provinces," where local governments seek to promote sustainable development with respect to environmental protection, said Li Ganjie, China's vice environment minister, at the Eco-Forum Global (EFG) 2011 in Guiyang, capital city of southwest China's Guizhou Province.

So far, more than 1,000 cities and counties have worked out blueprints and timetables to achieve eco-civilization which features harmonious relations between people and nature, as well as environment-friendly consumption and lifestyles, according to the vice minister.

Li said that experience learned from those pilot eco-cities would help other parts of China move towards eco-civilization, which the country has been promoting as a strategic objective for future development in recent years.

The two-day forum has attracted hundreds of government officials, scholars, NGO representatives and business people from around the world to exchange information in the fields of green economy and eco-civilization.

Over the next few years, China will set up indices and build an evaluation system to further speed up the process of eco-civilization, according to Li.

The country has also launched a low-carbon pilot program covering five provinces and eight cities, said Xie Zhenhua, vice director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner, while attending the forum.

Building low-carbon cities is an apparent effort of the county to achieve its goal of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide produced per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent by the end of 2020.

Last month, the NDRC said China had accomplished its five-year mission for energy-saving as energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) had dropped by 19.1 percent during the 11th Five-year Plan period (2006-2010).

According to the statement, the economy expanded by an average annual growth rate of 11.2 percent over the past five years, but its energy consumption grew only 6.6 percent annually on average.

"China is leading the way of a lower carbon culture as a new study by the Stockholm Environment Institute will show that China's emissions reductions could nearly double those of the USA," said former Irish prime minister Berti Ahern at the forum.

"China could therefore credibly lead the world to a new Climate Change protocol to replace Kyoto at the annual UN climate change meeting in Durban later this year," said Ahern.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon also sent a message to the forum, urging more cooperation between different partners including local governments, businesses, civil society groups, and academia to tackle environmental problems.

Ban said the world was confronted with impending and interlinked crises related to food and nutrition security, water resources, biodiversity, land degradation and climate change, under the influence of which, the world economic recovery remains fragile and prospects for growth remain uncertain for many countries.

"To tackle these crises, we need to work together," Ban said.

Ban also said he believed that the forum would provide an important input to the preparations for next year's Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

This year's forum, themed "Green Changes toward Eco-Civilization, Challenges and Opportunities," is co-sponsored by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Peking University and Guizhou's provincial government.

The forum has been held annually in Guiyang since 2009.

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