Addressing the launch on Friday in Beijing for a new energy-saving initiative known as the “Green Lights Project,” Mr. Ban said that China's recent emergence as the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases meant it was vital for the international community that the country pursues sustainable environmental and economic policies.
“China has the size and power to blaze a new trail for the world. It has the vision to create a new clean-energy path to prosperity,” he said, calling on the country to assume a global leadership role.
“By investing in green growth, your country can leapfrog over decades of traditional development based on dirty fuels. The key is prioritizing clean energy, which can create new jobs, spur innovation, and usher in a new era of global prosperity. In so doing, China can serve as the vanguard of tomorrow's economy, today.”
The Green Lights Project, which has been jointly organized by the UN and the Chinese Government, is a $14 million programme aimed at promoting the use of energy-saving lamps and phasing out the sale and production of incandescent lamps. It could cut Chinese energy consumption by as much as 8 per cent.
Mr. Ban stressed that countries that take the lead on combating climate change “will reap rewards. They will be winners in the global marketplace. And, assuming that prosperity is shared equitably, they will also strengthen stability at home.”
He said China's position as a global power meant it had additional responsibilities, particularly regarding the conference in December in Copenhagen, Denmark, convened to approve a global emissions pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012.
Mr. Ban has also scheduled a summit of world leaders at UN Headquarters in New York on 22 September to try to build momentum towards obtaining a deal in Copenhagen.
“Major emerging economies, including China, have taken great strides. I am impressed by China's efforts in renewable energy and energy efficiency, among other areas. I urge you to accelerate your national actions, including energy and carbon intensity targets,” he said.
“Strong signals from China on mitigation actions announced before Copenhagen will help push the negotiating process forward. They can also direct responsibility to other key countries to do more.”
The Secretary-General noted also that trust between rich and poor countries will be essential if countries are to reach an agreed outcome in Copenhagen.
Later on Friday Mr. Ban is slated to hold talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and other senior officials. On Sunday he will travel to Mongolia to meet the leadership of that country and hold further discussions on climate change.