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EDITORIAL: Building The China-Fiji Green Growth Connection

Fiji’s Green Growth Framework may be assisted by an unlikely source, China. The world’s largest emitter of carbon emissions has undergone a metamorphosis of sorts in the last five years.
31 Jul 2015 14:31
EDITORIAL: Building The China-Fiji Green Growth Connection

Fiji’s Green Growth Framework may be assisted by an unlikely source, China. The world’s largest emitter of carbon emissions has undergone a metamorphosis of sorts in the last five years. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and his delegation, currently on a state visit to China, might do well to learn a few lessons on the Chinese government’s ambitions to become a renewable energy superpower.

While coverage of the Prime Minister’s state visit to China tends to focus on forging military and trade ties, partnering with the Asian giant on climate and environmental issues should also be part of the high-level political dialogue.

The Chinese government, like its much smaller but no less determined Fijian counterpart, aims to provide leadership in both domestic and international affairs. It revealed its intentions late last month with new commitments to cut its carbon emission rates.

The new objectives that build upon the historic November 2014 agreement with the United States include:

– peaking of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 or earlier

– reducing carbon intensity by 60-65 per cent relative to 2005 levels

– increasing the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 20 per cent

– increasing forest cover by 4.5 billion cubic metres relative to 2005 levels.

The commitments are by far, much more than what the Chinese government was prepared to do in 2009 at the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Decreasing the use of fossil fuels like coal will set off a few alarm bells in Canberra. The Chinese market has provided lucrative returns for Australian coal exporters.

On the other end of the scale, Fiji continues to speak on behalf of small island states suffering the adverse effects of climate change. It has provided practical solutions, like facilitating the purchase of land in Vanua Levu, for the Kiribati government, in anticipation of a stream of climate change refugees from the small atoll state.

It was also inspiring to note that on the home front, the Fiji National University (FNU) plans to start an eco-park at Saweni, Lautoka. The FNU’s partnership with a church group from Saru Village enabled the planting of 3600 mangrove seedlings on Wednesday. This partnership could provide a template for institution-community/vanua co-operation to help implement the Government’s Green Growth objectives. Not to be outdone, the University of Fiji hosted a Eco-contest competition that was won by Xavier College.

While there may be massive differences in economies of scale for China and Fiji, both countries are clear about their green future. Partnering together with the Asian giant for the Paris Conference this year might be a feasible option. The reformed emitter (China) with the loudest small voice (Fiji). It’s becoming a likely scenario by the day.

 

Feedback:  josuat@fijisun.com.fj

 




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