Speech in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Editor in Chief of Science and Technology Daily,
P R China
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great honor to come to Katowice as a member of the Steering Committee for the “Chinese National Committee for Future Earth”, and speak at the COP24 working group meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
First of all, I'd like to talk about the relationship between ecological civilization building and sustainable development.
Ecological civilization is a brand-new axiology preference from the sustainable development strategy, and a choice made by human beings to cope with global ecological crisis. The Chinese government puts a high priority on ecological civilization building. China's economy has achieved great progress in the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, but at a stiff price –extensive development has led to ecological and environmental problems. The term "unbalanced and inadequate development" outlines the current situation in China well.
When we look at people's livelihoods, there are problems, too. Poverty alleviation is a tough mission. More than 40 million Chinese people are still living below the poverty line. The wide gaps between different population groups, cities and rural areas and eastern and western regions are all problems plaguing our country and society, along with lower quality and efficiency of development, poor innovation ability and issues in a range of sectors, including employment, education, medical services, housing and pensions.
Given China’s huge population, any remarkable achievement is dwarfed if divided by 1.3 billion, and any tiny issue becomes titanic when multiplied by that much.
The world population was 7.6 billion in 2017, of which the population of Chinese mainland is about 1.39 billion, accounting for 18.29% of the global total. Last year, the world's GDP totaled about 81 trillion US dollars, with China contributing about 12.25 trillion US dollars, or 15.12% of the global total. The two percentages imply China's GDP per capita is still below the global average.
So here arises a predicament: although China has the world’s second-largest GDP, its GDP per capita in 2017 ranks 70th among the more than 220 countries and regions covered in the list, due to its large population base.
The report to the 19th CPC National Congress said the basic dimension of the Chinese context – that our country is still and will long remain in the primary stage of socialism – has not changed. China’s international status as the world’s largest developing country has not changed.
Industrialization is an essential stage in the development of human civilization. As a major developing country, China has a strong and urgent demand for further industrialization, hence industrialization remains a tough historic task in our process of modernization.
History reveals disorderly advancement of industrialization will lead to industrial crisis and even civilization dilemma. Yet the idea of an ecological civilization advocates the “ecologicalization” of economic activities, which will effectively overcome drawbacks in traditional industrialization modes.
Industrialization cannot stall, but ecological civilization building can brook no delay, either. The two must advance together and foster benign interaction. Today, the new historical proposition of "Building a beautiful China" is putting forward higher requirements for an ecological civilization and sustainable development, and has become a consensus of the whole society in China.
Second, I believe ecological civilization building depends on improvement of citizens’ scientific literacy.
The ecological civilization is a form of human civilization that emphasizes consciousness and self-discipline from human beings, and interdependent, harmonious coexistence between humans and nature. The biggest characteristic of ecological civilization building is its need for public recognition and participation. Vigorous promotion of the scientific spirit and improvement of citizens' scientific literacy are strong methods to boost public recognition and participation.
What is the scientific spirit? It is the general name for the common beliefs, values and codes of conduct that people develop in long-term scientific practice. It is worth stressing scientific spirit is not exclusive to scientists. Any advanced, civilized society needs a scientific spirit to nourish public consciousness.
For instance, we regard medieval Europe as poor, backward and ignorant. People at that time attributed natural forces to demons or angels, leaving themselves in anxiety and fear. After the Renaissance, there came the Enlightenment with a core of rationalism.
The rise of reason and science in the Enlightenment fueled European countries’ transformation from religious theocracies to secular societies, beginning their 400-year process of modernization. Today, Europe has become a model for the world in ecological civilization building.
I think we would all agree promoting the scientific spirit is essential for China and the world at large in ecological civilization building. We should try to fully understand the necessity, complexity and difficulty of carrying forward this spirit, and know that it will be a long-term task.
Last but not least, I would like to introduce the newspaper I work for, Science and Technology Daily, probably the only newspaper focused on science and technology in the world.
As chief editor, what I think about most every day is how to put into practice the purpose of the newspaper – promoting the scientific spirit – in each issue.
If there is something most likely to be exchanged between different countries today, I’d say it is science and technology. Any scientific discovery and technological invention can transcend the barriers of ideology, politics, religion or culture and become the common wealth of all mankind. This law is independent of man’s will. In this sense, Science and Technology Daily can create exchanges and cooperation between China and other countries by leveraging its unique advantages and pushing forward ecological civilization building.
Science and Technology Daily has provided objective and influential coverages of important issues concerning all human beings such as the signing of the Paris Agreement, and the global effort against the climate change, including the work of China. To some extent, this coverage has effectively promoted ecological civilization building and the implementation of China’s sustainable development strategy.
We at Science and Technology Daily will enhance coverage of countermeasures against global climate change. We hope to win more readers and friends, and help build a beautiful home for mankind together!
Thank you very much!