Besides the United States, China has done more than any other country to contribute to climate change. But while China’s greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly warming the planet, the Asian nation is quickly shifting its focus to climate change mitigation to ensure a sustainable biosphere for future generations. According to a new United Nations report, China plans to build an “ecological civilization” that could be a model for the rest of the world. The project includes an initiative to cover nearly one quarter of the country with forests by 2020.
The report, titled “Green is gold: The strategy and actions of China’s ecological civilization,” was launched at the UN Environmental Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. Zhu Guangyao, executive vice president of the Chinese Ecological Civilization Research and Promotion Association, called ecological civilization a new concept in the development of human civilization that requires respect for nature. “The outdated view that man can conquer nature and ignore the bearing capacity of resources and the environment should be completely abandoned,” said Guangyao. “Conscientious efforts should be made to live in harmony with nature, allowing for a new approach to modernization characterized by such co-existence.”
According to the report, other targets by 2020 include cutting water consumption by 23 percent, energy consumption by 15 percent and carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 18 percent. The eco-civilization blueprint also pledges by 2020 to increase prairie vegetation coverage by 56 percent, reclaiming more than half of reclaimable desert and preserving at least 35 percent of the natural shorelines.
Forests are an important part of climate change mitigation because along with other ecosystems they can act as carbon sinks, sequestering billions of tons of atmospheric carbon — helping to cool the biosphere and reverse global warming.
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