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WWF Welcomes China-U.S. Statement on Environment

Washington, D.C., May 19, 2000 -- World Wildlife Fund welcomes a joint statement issued today by the governments of China and the United States on their bilateral environmental cooperation efforts. The statement is a meaningful and positive step forward.

In particular in the statement China articulates new commitments and positions with regard to climate change and for the first time states it will voluntarily act to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions through a number of actions.

"China has shown a significant level of good will both for the short-term Kyoto negotiations, and the long-term haul of curbing global warming," said Jennifer Morgan, director of WWF's Climate Change Campaign. "China's new statement on global warming flies in the face of those in Congress who say key developing countries will never act. With one tenth of the per capita emissions of the United States, China's pledge to move toward less carbon-intensive fuels shows an increased level of their participation in the climate debate that we have never seen before."

Specific elements of the commitment made by China today include pledges to:

  • expand significantly the use of natural gas in China's energy supply;
  • increase significantly the generation of power from renewable energy sources;
  • implement further economic reforms to bring about additional environmental benefits (such as the past removal of certain fossil fuel subsidies);
  • express willingness to entertain new and creative thinking and approaches to cooperation between developed and developing countries on climate change; and
  • agree to work together (with the U.S.) and other countries toward early agreement on the elements of the Kyoto mechanisms, including the Clean Development Mechanism

WWF also noted language in the joint China-U.S. statement that addresses the environmental dimensions of China's integration into the multilateral trading system, and in particular language referring to China's forest policies and pledging that the two countries will "work together to assure that any increased trade flows will not undercut natural resource management and species protection programs." China, which has enacted a logging ban covering some of its largest forests, is emerging as a major importer of wood products-with potentially significant impacts on forest resources in other countries.

"The question is not whether China should be integrated into the global economy, the question is how," said David Schorr, Director of WWF's Sustainable Commerce Program. "The China-U.S. statement implicitly recognizes that liberalizing trade must go hand in hand with measures to ensure the appropriate protection and management of forests, species, and other natural resources, both within China and around the world. U.S.-China cooperation on critical environmental issues is essential. Today's statement contributes to that goal."

WWF cautioned, however, that fulfillment of the promises contained in the China-U.S. Statement will require continuing attention and political commitment. WWF looks forward to working with both governments to pursue concrete actions to combat global warming and preserve the Earth's biodiversity.