CHINA - China's air pollution problem will be alleviated in five to 10 years, the country's top climate change negotiator said on Tuesday.
Xie Zhenhua, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, was responding to recent fears voiced in South Korean media that pollution blown to that country from China has triggered cases of respiratory disease.
Smoggy weather has virtually become the norm in China, affecting physical and mental health and causing concern domestically and internationally, Xie said.
"The cause of air pollution and climate change is the same - the burning of fossil fuel. Many of the policies and measures to solve the two issues are also the same, such as reducing coal consumption and controlling the number of motor vehicles," Xie said.
Kalee Kreider, special adviser for climate science at the United Nations Foundation, said the air will clear relatively quickly in China compared with the Western world as the central government becomes more aware of the public demand for better air quality.
In 2012, consumption of standard coal equivalent in China was 3.62 billion metric tons, with coal accounting for 67.1 per cent, a fall of 1.3 percentage points compared with 2011, said a report issued by the commission on Tuesday.
The report, China's Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change, said the consumption of non-fossil fuel in 2012 was 9.1 per cent, up 1.1 percentage points from 2011.
Li Gao, deputy head of the climate change department at the commission, said, "Developing countries are willing to contribute in tackling climate change, but their ability will be limited if preconditions such as financial and technological support from developed countries are not fulfilled."
Li was speaking during a discussion with environmental non-governmental organisations last week.
Officials and experts see funding as a priority issue at a two-week major United Nations climate change conference opening in Warsaw, the Polish capital, on Monday.
Xie said, "Developed countries should promise no less than the $30 billion pledged in fast-start funding between 2013 and 2015, chart a clear course for meeting the funding pledge of $100 billion by 2020 and invest in the Green Climate Fund as soon as possible."
Yang Fuqiang, senior adviser on energy, the environment and climate change at the Natural Resources Defence Council, an NGO in Washington, said there has been no concrete implementation of many agreements made at previous conferences.
This has dampened the enthusiasm of many parties, especially developing countries, Yang said.
"So far, we have not seen even one penny in 2013 and the year will soon be ending," Yang said. "It is obvious that on the issue of funding, developed countries have not fulfilled the commitments they made on climate change issues."
Xie said despite no financial or technological support being delivered by developed countries, developing countries, including China, have managed to reduce emissions on their own.
He said China reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 billion tons between 2006 and 2010, and by 300 million to 400 million tons from 2011 to 2012.