Greening China helps lift Earth’s environmental profile

China Plus Published: 2019-10-07 21:51:04
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Note: The following article is taken from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs".

Earth is greener than it was 20 years ago. That was the conclusion made by NASA in February this year after it compared satellite data from the mid-1990s to those of today using high-resolution imagery. The researchers found that the global net increase in green leaf area was mainly boosted by the tree-planting programs and intensified agriculture in China and India. Between 2000 and 2017, China alone accounted for a quarter of the global net increase in green leaf area, ranking first in the world.

This undated photo shows a woman posing with a willow tree planted to prevent desertification as part of the Ant Forest project, which was granted the United Nations’ Champions of the Earth award in September, 2019. [Photo: IC]

This undated photo shows a woman posing with a willow tree planted to prevent desertification as part of the Ant Forest project, which was granted the United Nations’ Champions of the Earth award in September, 2019. [Photo: IC]

In fact, China’s greening effort started long before that. The Three-North Shelter Forest Program, also known as the Green Great Wall, the world’s biggest tree-planting project to keep the encroaching desert in the north at bay, which was started in 1978 by the Chinese government, has been listed as an eco-economic demonstration project by the United Nations Environment Programme. In recent years, China’s government has also strengthened its environment protection at the strategic level, reinforcing supervision and governance. This was evidenced by the addition of the ecological advancement being written into the 13th Five-Year Plan, China’s Constitution and the Constitution of the Communist Party. The country has also introduced and revised 9 ecological environmental laws and over 20 relevant administrative regulations. In 2015, China began to implement a new environmental protection law, the toughest ever in history. According to the law, pollution fines would no longer be capped, and officials responsible for any decisions leading to pollution or environmental degradation will be punished even after retirement.

Apart from state-led efforts, the general public has also actively participated in environmental protection activities. By the end of August, an afforestation project named Ant Forest had recruited 500 million people to a low-emission life, which resulted in carbon emission reduction by more than 7.9 million metric tons, and the planting of over 120 million real trees in China's most arid areas. Last month, the project was awarded the United Nations’ Champions of the Earth award in the Inspiration and Action category. This is the third consecutive year that a Chinese entity has won the UN's top environmental award.

China’s progress in ecological protection can also be seen in improvements in its air quality. Over the past six years, the average concentrations of the country’s PM2.5 and sulfur dioxide have continued to decrease at a two-digit rate.

Climate change is a common challenge facing humanity, and ecological construction requires global participation. China, as a developing country, has approved more than 30 multilateral conventions or protocols related to ecological protection, and signed more than 50 documents on environmental cooperation with Belt and Road countries as well as international organizations to establish the Belt and Road International Green Development Coalition. At the UN Climate Action Summit held late last month, China reaffirmed its commitment to strictly implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement and to achieve its contribution goal as scheduled. As a believer in the concept that “Clean waters and green mountains are as valuable as mountains of gold and silver,” China will undoubtedly become a key participant, contributor and leading player in the global ecological development.

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LU Xiankun Professor LU Xiankun is Managing Director of LEDECO Geneva and Associate Partner of IDEAS Centre Geneva. He is Emeritus Professor of China Institute for WTO Studies of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Wuhan University (WHU) of China and visiting professor or senior research fellow of some other universities and think tanks in China and Europe. He also sits in management of some international business associations and companies, including as Senior Vice President of Shenzhen UEB Technology LTD., a leading e-commerce company of China. Previously, Mr. LU was senior official of Chinese Ministry of Commerce and senior diplomat posted in Europe, including in Geneva as Counsellor and Head of Division of the Permanent Mission of China to the WTO and in Brussels as Commercial Secretary of the Permanent Mission of China to the EU. Benjamin Cavender Benjamin Cavender is a Shanghai based consultant with more than 11 years of experience helping companies understand consumer behavior and develop go to market strategies for China. He is a frequent speaker on economic and consumer trends in China and is often featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Channel News Asia. Sara Hsu Sara Hsu is an associate professor from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is a regular commentator on Chinese economy. Xu Qinduo Xu Qinduo is CRI's former chief correspondent to Washington DC, the United States. He works as the producer, host and commentator for TODAY, a flagship talk show on current affairs. Mr. Xu contributes regularly to English-language newspapers including Shenzhen Daily and Global Times as well as Chinese-language radio and TV services. Lin Shaowen A radio person, Mr. Lin Shaowen is strongly interested in international relations and Chinese politics. As China is quite often misunderstood in the rest of the world, he feels the need to better present the true picture of the country, the policies and meanings. So he talks a lot and is often seen debating. Then friends find a critical Lin Shaowen criticizing and criticized. George N. Tzogopoulos Dr George N. Tzogopoulos is an expert in media and politics/international relations as well as Chinese affairs. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Européenne (CIFE) and Visiting Lecturer at the European Institute affiliated with it and is teaching international relations at the Department of Law of the Democritus University of Thrace. George is the author of two books: US Foreign Policy in the European Media: Framing the Rise and Fall of Neoconservatism (IB TAURIS) and The Greek Crisis in the Media: Stereotyping in the International Press (Ashgate) as well as the founder of, an institutional partner of CRI Greek. David Morris David Morris is the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commissioner in China, a former Australian diplomat and senior political adviser. Harvey Dzodin After a distinguished career in the US government and American media Dr. Harvey Dzodin is now a Beijing-based freelance columnist for several media outlets. While living in Beijing, he has published over 200 columns with an emphasis on arts, culture and the Belt & Road initiative. He is also a sought-after speaker and advisor in China and abroad. He currently serves as Nonresident Research Fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization and Senior Advisor of Tsinghua University National Image Research Center specializing in city branding. Dr. Dzodin was a political appointee of President Jimmy Carter and served as lawyer to a presidential commission. Upon the nomination of the White House and the US State Department he served at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. He was Director and Vice President of the ABC Television in New York for more than two decades.