Stronger China-UK Energy Cooperation Paves the Way for Building a Community of Shared Future
– Keynote Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the UK Energy Investment Summit 2017
London, 26 January 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a real pleasure to join you for the UK Energy Investment Summit. This summit focuses on a highly pertinent issue because energy is closely linked to our daily life. It is an important subject that bears on the trend of global economy and the future of mankind.
Indeed, how do we judge the trend of the world economy and the future of global governance? To try to answer this question, let me quote President Xi Jinping.
In his keynote speech not long ago at the World Economic Forum in Davos, President Xi said:
We should not blame economic globalization for the world’s problems. Rather, we should keep to the goal of building a community of shared future for mankind.
We should adapt to and guide economic globalization. We need to relentlessly pursue innovation.
We need to build an open global economy to share opportunities through opening-up.
We should deliver the benefits of economic globalization to all countries and all nations.
From the perspective of building a community of shared future, let me share with you my thoughts on the issue of energy and my suggestions for China-UK energy cooperation.
Talking about energy, the first thing we must admit is that energy makes it possible for building a community and a future where everyone has a stake. The history of human progress is, in a way, a history of discoveries of new forms of energy.
We have traveled a journey from the discovery of fire to the use of electricity, and from the excavation of fossil fuels to the rapid development of renewable energies. And every time, the discovery of a new source of energy and the replacement of the old always played a crucial role in human progress. The reasons are simple. Large scale exploitation and application of energy helps increase productivity in a dramatic way. This stimulates scientific and technological progress. This reduces the distance between countries and regions. And this drives economic globalization.
However, the development and use of energy also create environmental and security problems, which have posed challenges for us all. The growth of population and economy leads to immense increase of energy consumption. The global ecological and environmental system is now under huge pressure. Global challenges such as climate change and energy security are increasingly acute.
For all seven billion people on this planet, the earth is our only home. We have only one choice, and that is to cherish and care for our home. And there is only one way to do this, and that is to go green and go low-carbon. This is how we can grow the world economy in a sustainable way.
Just as President Xi said recently in Geneva,
“We must not exhaust all the resources passed on to us by previous generations and leave nothing to our children, or pursue development in a destructive way.”
“Clear waters and green mountains are as good as mountains of gold and silver. We must maintain harmony between man and nature and pursue sustainable development.”
In recent years, the idea of green development has prevailed in global energy governance. It is now an international consensus that energy cooperation should aim at the development of clean energy.
This is the spirit of sharing weal and woe and undertaking responsibility together. China and the UK, working in such a spirit, have respectively made unremitting efforts to advance the global energy governance.
The UK has been a world leader in energy related technology and innovation. It took the lead in the 18th century during the industrial revolution. It was among the first to build civil nuclear power plants in the mid-20th century.
In recent years, the UK has kept making progress in this field. Investment in new and renewable energy is increasing. Special laws are made and policies adopted to tackle climate change. The target is set for reducing emissions by at least 80% in 2050 from 1990 levels. And for the first time in 2016, wind energy provided 11.5% of UK’s total electricity output, overtaking coal generated power at only 9.2% of the total.
On part of China, it is now the world’s largest energy producer and consumer. In energy conservation, emission reduction and renewable energy development, China’s achievements over the years have been widely recognized.
We are committed to the new development concepts that focus on innovation, balanced growth, green economy, opening-up and inclusive development.
We are accelerating our efforts to build a modern energy system that is clean, efficient, secure and sustainable.
Our energy consumption structure has been constantly optimized. It is going through a gradual transition from the resource-intensive and low-efficiency model to one that is energy-saving and highly efficient.
In the future, China will remain committed to green and low-carbon development.
At present, China has greater installed capacity in hydropower, wind power and solar power than any other country in the world. Of the total energy consumption in 2016 (4.36 billion tons of standard coal), non-fossil fuel accounted for 13.3%, which was 1.3 percentage points higher than the previous year. In the first three quarters of last year, GDP per unit of energy use downed by 5.2% year on year. Such progress is largely attributed to green development.
Indeed, as urbanization and agricultural modernization remains an ongoing process in China, energy conservation and emission reduction becomes a daunting task. One example is the autumn and winter haze resulting from air pollution.
China is taking on this task. We will strive to make the growth in energy supply mainly green and low-carbon. To this end, we have set a number of targets to be met by 2020. These include:
Increasing the share of non-fossil fuel in primary energy consumption to 15%,
Increasing the proportion of natural gas to at least 10%,
And keeping the percentage of coal consumption below 58%.
This will enable us to reach the emissions peak before 2030.
On the world scene, China also played an active part in the negotiation of the Paris Agreement. China was among the first to ratify the agreement. China pushed the G20 to issue its first Presidency Statement on Climate Change. China also led the making of the G20 Voluntary Action Plan on Renewable Energy. The Presidency Statement and the Action Plan will help ensure the smooth and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement. China will continue to take steps to tackle climate change and fully honour its obligations.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Last year’s Brexit referendum and the UK’s government reshuffle caused some uncertainties in China-UK relations. However, our two countries have since then worked together to steady our relationship in time of transition and to sustain its momentum of development. Leaders of both countries reaffirmed the shared commitment to the “Golden Era” of China-UK relations and global comprehensive strategic partnership for the 21st century.
Energy cooperation features prominently in the win-win cooperation between our two countries. China and the UK have had cooperation in the field of fossil fuels, such as oil and gas. Meanwhile, our cooperation on clean and renewable energy is showing a strong momentum. Chinese companies are actively involved in Britain’s new energy projects, from nuclear power plants to offshore wind farms, from solar energy projects to biomass electricity generation. Their growing cooperation with the UK also includes next-generation green transport. The most familiar examples are the zero-emission electric bus and the ultra-low-emission London Black Cabs.
What is particularly worth mentioning is the package deal of the Hinckley Point C nuclear project. Its official signing by China, Britain and France last September was a milestone – a substantial step that China and the UK have taken in nuclear cooperation. This project will create more than 20,000 jobs and provide reliable energy supply to millions of British families. It will facilitate closer cooperation between China, Britain and other relevant countries on clean energy. It will help tackle climate change. It will drive the sustainable development in China, in the UK and beyond.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
We are now in an interesting time of profound transformation and massive changes. It is also a time of numerous challenges and increasing risks. Building a community of shared future for mankind is an exciting goal, and it requires all countries to undertake responsibilities and overcome difficulties together.
2017 is a year for consolidating the “Golden Era” of China-UK relations. 2017 also marks the 45th anniversary of the Ambassadorial-level diplomatic ties between China and Britain.
There are certainly new opportunities for China-UK relations. Energy cooperation, among others, should be our focus for producing more “golden fruits”.
I think there are a number of specific areas where we can strengthen our energy cooperation.
First, we should work to ensure the smooth implementation of the Hinkley Point C nuclear project. This is a flagship win-win project. We Chinese like to say: “Good things deserve good results.” British people say: “All is well that ends well.” We sincerely hope that this project will proceed smoothly, start to generate electricity on an early date and contribute to UK’s energy security.
Over the past 30 years, China has kept a good operation and security record. Our achievements in nuclear power development and security supervision have been highly recognized by international institutions. And we have always cooperated closely with our international partners.
I appreciate the UK government’s decision to start the generic design assessment of China’s nuclear reactor HPR1000, and we look forward to its early application in the UK.
We expect the British security assessment to be transparent and open, so that Chinese companies, like all foreign investors in the UK, will be treated equally and have their legitimate rights and interests protected.
Now, let me talk about the second area of energy cooperation.
Of all the fields where the next scientific, technological and industrial revolution could take place, the energy sector has the greatest potential. Here, China and the UK are well placed to work with each other and explore energy-related technology and innovation.
China is in a transition toward low-carbon development. There is a huge demand for new technologies and investment, and hence great business opportunities.
China has a complete nuclear industrial chain, mature nuclear power technology, world-class equipment building and rich construction experience.
China is also a world leader in the field of solar power technology, both R&D and application.
The UK leads the world in offshore wind power, tidal power, smart energy, distributed generation, carbon capture and sequestration, etc.
China and the UK can draw on our respective strengths in technology and resources. We can engage each other in win-win cooperation.
The third area of China-UK energy cooperation is opened up by the “Belt and Road” Initiative.
The “Belt and Road” Initiative is a major effort of China to strive for all-round opening-up. It is a platform for all-dimensional, cross-field cooperation among multi-entities.
Most of the countries along the “Belt and Road” routes are developing nations. The demand for energy facilities and electricity generation is huge. And so are the prospects for cooperation.
China is good at energy equipment building, development planning and facility construction, while the UK has strengths in financing and special services. Along the “Belt and Road” routes, there are demands for energy as well as interest in cooperation with international partners. Based on such demands and interest, China and the UK can engage regional partners in discussions over the content and form of multi-party cooperation and build an “energy silk road”. This will bring greater benefits not only to our two countries but also countries of the third market.
The fourth areas for China-UK energy cooperation is global governance regime.
Important outcomes on the issue of energy were reached at the G20 Hangzhou Summit. By highlighting the importance of efficient and clean energy in the future, the G20 demonstrated its unique role in global energy governance.
As members of the G20, China and the UK can work together on the following:
Greater energy policy dialogue and coordination.
Ensuring implementation of the G20 outcomes by all its members.
Increased investment in the energy sector.
Stronger monitoring system and an emergency response mechanism for the international energy market.
And improved energy security.
By working together, China and the UK can jointly contribute to a more efficient and inclusive global energy governance regime.
Last but not least, China and the UK can join hands to promote cooperation on climate change.
The Paris Agreement on Climate Change came into effect last November. It is a new chapter in the global response to climate change. It is a milestone in the history of climate governance. It is in line with the trend of global development. But it did not come easily and deserves to be cherished.
China and the UK have many common interests in tackling climate change. We have similar positions and share broad agreement on this issue. Both countries can play a leading role in the implementation of this agreement and contribute to the global cause of emission reduction.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
President Xi Jinping said this in his New Year message: “China believes that everyone belongs to one family in a united world.”
He went on to say in his speech in Davos: “As long as we keep to the goal of building a community of shared future for mankind and work hand in hand to fulfill our responsibilities and overcome difficulties, we will be able to create a better world and deliver better lives for our peoples.”
In just two days, we will ring in the Chinese New Year of the Rooster. In Chinese culture, the rooster is a symbol of hard-working, renewed vigor and good luck.
I am full of confidence and expectations for the year of the Rooster. I believe by working together China and Britain will enable greater progress in energy cooperation and contribute more “golden fruits” to the “Golden Era” of China-UK relations.
By working together, our two countries will make even greater contribution to green, inclusive and sustainable development in building a community of shared future for mankind.