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Xinhua Insight: Climate change: risks and opportunities

by Xinhua writer Hu Tao

BEIJING, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Every part of the world is feeling the impact of climate change, according to Kalee Kreider, a special adviser for climate science at the United Nations Foundation.

"No country is immune," said Kreider, who is also spokeswoman for former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, at a forum on Wednesday in Beijing.

The forum was part of a three-day promotional activity publicizing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report.

Titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability, the document was released on Monday in Yokohama, Japan.

The report focuses on the impact of climate change to date, future risks, and opportunities to reduce risks. "The opportunities are tremendous," said Kreider.

NOT ALL BAD

At the launch of the report on Monday, Christopher B. Field, co-chair of the IPCC, said although the report focuses on challenges, it also looks at opportunities.

This can ultimately help build a better world, Field said.

Last year, the IPCC's report revealed that it was 95 percent certain that human action alone was responsible for rising global temperatures since the mid-20th century.

The IPCC is the leading international body for climate change assessment and seeks to provide a "clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts," according to official statements.

"Reducing risks is an opportunity, but the world needs to take action," said Dr. Wang Ke, executive director of program of energy and climate economics at the Renmin University of China.

Wang admitted China is under pressure to take concrete measures in tackling climate change.

On Wednesday, central China's Hubei Province launched a carbon trading scheme, the country's sixth. Under the program, those which emit below their quotas of carbon emission can sell the excess to other enterprises or even to investors for profit.

The scheme is a big step for China in building a nationwide carbon market, with an expectation of 40 to 45 percent reductions of 2005's emissions slated for 2020.

China is predicted to become the world's second-largest carbon emission trading market, covering 700 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

NEW STARTING POINT

China's development began far later than many Western countries, but when it comes to climate change technology, nations are at the same starting point, Kreider said.

She said new types of power plants, clean energy providing facilities, and developments in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology were all needed.

This was Kreider's fourth trip to Beijing in the past eight years.

The "most impressive change" in the country for her has been the increasing awareness of climate change in government, research, market and among the public.

China has initiated pilot low-carbon programs, with industrial parks and communities across the country, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the nation's top economic planner.

To hit polluting industries hard, China has also been considering a carbon tax.

In mid-March, China revealed a blueprint of a new-type of urbanization to prop up the economy with massive building projects of transportation networks and infrastructure expected from now on to 2020.

Kreider said this provides the country with an opportunity to become more efficient. She said if policy making and the financial sector are well built then China can expect "healthy growth."

The United Nations Foundation, which is a public charity, is a platform for connecting people, ideas, and resources to help the UN resolve global problems.

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