President Hu’s UN Speech: Key Signal that Chinese Domestic Policy will be more Carbon-Focused

Expectations had been raised high, perhaps unrealistically so before President Hu’s speech to the UN General Assembly, September 22. Friends in China had been telling everyone, including lots of reporters, that President Hu would say something about carbon intensity. Indeed he did, promising to “cut carbon intensity per unit GDP by a notable margin.” (see Hu Jintao’s Speech on Climate Change) But many had expected more news, not just a confirmation of what was earlier rumor. The most significant news was that this was the first time a Chinese President had ever attended the UN General Assembly, and he chose climate change as his topic. (Commentary: Hu Jintao remains short on detail). Equally importantly, President Hu’s speech addressed China’s specific policies – reducing energy intensity and increasing the use of renewables and of forest cover in ways that will lead to a directly measurable reduction in carbon intensity.

Energy Intensity Progress – Likely to Improve by 5% in 2009

We also learned in late September that China expects to reduce its energy intensity by 5% this year – that would be more than the average 4% per year they would have needed to meet their 2010 target (20% over the five years 2006 through the end of 2010), and help make up for shortfalls in the first two years of the program. (China likely to cut energy use per unit of GDP by 5% this year) Right now the Chinese have a national climate change program and the United States does not yet. Take a look at our report “China, the United States and the Climate Change Challenge” to see all the things that China is currently doing. (China, the United States, and the Climate Change Challenge) as well as our fact sheets, to see what is going on in China.

Photo by Ashitakka, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.