A review of history shows that climate change occurs in the course of development. It is both an environment issue and a development issue. But ultimately, it is a development issue.
As pointed out in the United Nations framework convention on climate change, most of historical and current global emissions of greenhouse gases originated in developed countries, while per capita emissions in developing countries are still relatively low.
The share of global emissions originating in developing countries will grow as they work to meet their social and development needs. To prevent climate change from endangering human survival and development, while maintaining economic development and meeting the legitimate demand of the people, this is an issue that concerns the well-being and the future of all mankind.Economic development and the environmental protection and efforts to tackle climate change should be mutually reinforcing rather than mutually conflicting. For developing countries like China, whose level of economic development is still low and whose people are yet to live a better life, the most pressing issue for them is to grow the economy and raise people's living standards.
Efforts to tackle climate change should promote economic development and not be pursued at the expense of the economic development. On the other hand, we must not fail to see that the economic development model of high-energy consumption, high pollution, and high emissions is not sustainable. And the path of pursuing development first and treating pollution next is not a viable one.
The best environment policy is also the best economic policy. Countries should all incorporate environmental protection into their overall economic development strategies and take resolute measure to follow a path of sustainable development. This will enable us to address environment issues through economic development, and promote economic development by resolving environment issues, thus ensuring both economic development and the environmental protection."
—Yang Jiechi, Foreign Minister of China, at the closing plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative, 26 Sept. 2007