Opening Remarks by Ms. Beate Trankmann at the Thematic Event on Energy Conservation, 2020 China International Import Expo

Posted November 6, 2020

China International Import Expo (CIIE) 2020

Thematic Event on Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection

Policy and Technology Exchange

6 November 2020

Distinguished Sòng Chángqīng fù sī zhăng,

Distinguished delegates, dear colleagues,

Good Morning!

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme in China, I’m delighted to be part of this important event to discuss ideas around energy conservation and environmental protection.

It is high time for the world to pursue a new normal – one that is sustainable and resilient. The toll of the global pandemic on our ‘old normal’ has been enormous. Global GDP has shrunk by 4.4% this year.[1] Economies everywhere have been pushed into recession. Human development is on course to fall for the first time since 1990. As a result, we now face great uncertainty in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – to end poverty and save our environment.

Yet the pandemic has also proven a greener path is possible – as we found working from home and travelling less. Indeed, this crisis offers an opportunity we cannot afford to squander. Unless we can combat the threat of climate change and reset our relationship with nature, outbreaks, like COVID-19, along with natural disasters – including wildfires, floods, droughts and storms – will only grow.

So what’s to be done?

Globally, we can accelerate the transition to sustainable pathways by closing the gaps in energy efficiency and promoting green technology. In China, for example, by the end of 2019, carbon intensity had dropped by about 48.1 percent from 2005, with renewables accounting for 15.3 percent of energy, up 6 percentage points over the past nine years.[2] In September, President Xi reaffirmed China’s commitment to the SDGs, aiming “to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.”

UNDP has been working with the Chinese government on energy efficiency projects for more than 20 years. And one of our flagship initiatives is our green lighting project, launched in 2009. This aims to reduce China’s energy consumption by improving the quality and efficiency of lighting, as well as promoting the use of LED products.

Over the last decade, this project has created a Roadmap for Phasing-out Incandescent Lamps. It also helped include energy targets for China’s lighting industry in the National 13th Five-Year Plan, guiding the development of green lighting in the country. As a result, in 2019, LED lighting products saved 306.9 billion kilowatts of electricity – equivalent to cutting carbon emissions by 240 million tons.[3]

Through this expo, it’s my hope that China’s experiences can be shared, to help other nations find their own green energy solutions. Partner countries can learn to adopt low-carbon, sustainable pathways and transition away from carbon-intensive, inefficient ways of the past.

As the world confronts COVID-19 and works towards recovery, we are also at a crucial point in our fight against climate change. In the post-pandemic world, we have a choice to resist the temptation to return to business as usual, and instead build back better for our planet and society, in a recovery that is driven by clean energy.

The vast scale of investments in the global recovery from COVID-19 can either help drive climate action forward and keep the Paris Agreement goals within reach – or set us back years. So bold steps and accelerated action at all levels of government, businesses and society are needed, to steer the world towards a greener future. UNDP is excited to work with all of you here today to turn that global vision into reality.

I thank the NDRC for hosting this event to discuss the next steps we can all take to achieve this. As former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon once said: “By changing a light bulb and changing our mindset, we can change the world.” Together, I believe we can turn on new lights for a brighter future – one that safeguards our planet for future generations and leaves no one behind: 一个都不能少(yī gè dōu bù néng shăo).

Thank you!

[1] Data source: World Economic Outlook by IMF.

[2] Data source: MEE.

[3] Data source: China Solid State Lighting Alliance, 2020.