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China’s Premier Wen says tackling climate change “essential” to chinese development

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Remarks after Mansion House speech raises likelihood of new global climate agreement in 2015

Speaking at an IISS-Chatham House event at Mansion House on 18th June, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made remarks on China’s interests in tackling climate change, and outlined the position it will take in the negotiations towards a new global climate change agreement in December 2015 in Paris 2015.

In response to a question from E3G’s CEO Nick Mabey, Premier Li confirmed the importance of tackling climate change for China’s development:

“Countering climate change is not just an international obligation where China will take on its responsibilities. It is an intrinsic requirement for China to achieve modernisation.”

Premier Li continued by re-emphasising China’s view that the aim of the Paris negotiations is an agreement to maintain global average temperature levels below 2C. He remarked that the key decision for China was in which year its GHG emissions will peak and level-off. China would decide this peaking date in the context of the “concerted efforts” of the international community to tackle climate change.

He emphasised that there was still significant time before Paris, and China would be stepping up its engagement with many countries on these issues and increasing domestic efforts to reduce air pollution. Premier Li declined to say when China would announce its emission reduction target in advance of the Paris meeting, but signalled that they would want to do this at the same time as other members of the international community.

Responding to Premier Li’s remarks, E3G’s CEO Nick Mabey commented:

"China is the world’s greenhouse gas super power. China’s decision on when, and at what level, it will peak its emissions will determine the impact of climate change on everyone in the world, including in the UK.

Premier Li has added momentum to the international climate negotiations by strongly stating China’s national interest in achieving a new climate agreement in Paris next year. He also was clear that China will look at the level of greenhouse gas cuts which Europe and the US commit to before deciding its own emission targets. The more ambitious we are, the more ambitious China will be. European leaders should agree strong emission cuts as early as possible this year in order to set the bar for global ambition."

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