At the recently concluded Climate Ambition Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping repeated his well-known remarks: "Mountains and rivers green are mountains of silver and gold," calling for a new approach to climate governance that highlights green recovery.
The dialectical words, also known as the "two mountains" concept in Chinese, are a key component of Xi's thought on ecological progress, and have become a catchword among government officials, entrepreneurs and farmers as well across the country.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, put forward the concept in Anji County, a white tea-producing area in Zhejiang Province, in 2005 when he was the Party chief of the eastern coastal province.
To protect the natural environment, critical to high-quality tea leaves, villagers in Anji are vigorously taking environment-friendly measures, such as promoting garbage sorting and proper disposal.
In Hengxiwu Village, dustbins with QR codes are at the gates of each house. When the garbage is loaded to the collection truck, the driver would scan the QR codes and upload the classification information for review.
The total volume of garbage transported out of the village has been cut from 1 tonne to 150 kg per day thanks to increased awareness and better classification. "Properly sorting garbage is necessary for green development," said Pan Heqing, a 39-year-old villager.
Since ecological progress was included in the five-sphere integrated plan for building socialism with Chinese characteristics at the 18th National Congress of the CPC in November 2012, the country has strengthened ecological conservation through reforms, restoration projects as well as the promotion of green production and lifestyles.
FORGING HARMONY BETWEEN MAN AND NATURE
Effective from Jan. 1, a 10-year fishing ban will cover all the key waters of the Yangtze River. The move will help the country's longest waterway recover from dwindling aquatic resources and degrading biodiversity. A fishing ban has been in place for 332 conservation areas along the river since the beginning of this year.
Song Bin, a 47-year-old ex-fisherman from Jiangbei District, southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, dismantled his boat in 2018 and gave up his fishing business after learning about the Yangtze fishing ban.
Like Song, who is aware of the urgent needs of the fishing moratorium, more than 400 fishermen in Jiangbei District supported the policy. "We noticed a plummet in fish catch in recent years, so we earnestly want the Yangtze River to catch her breath."
After moving ashore, Song opened a restaurant and rented a farm for fish breeding to produce ingredients for his restaurant, using the government's compensation for the fishing ban.
Pursuing the harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature and the "two mountains" concept were among the six principles that Xi highlighted at the National Conference on Eco-environmental Protection in May 2018. "Humanity and nature are a community of life," he said.
"We should protect the eco-environment as we protect our eyes, and cherish it as we cherish our own lives," Xi said.
At a symposium he chaired on comprehensively advancing the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt in November, Xi called for efforts to write a new chapter in prioritizing ecological conservation and boosting green development, and draw a new painting featuring harmony between nature, the people and the cities.
In recent years, the country has accelerated efforts to develop a system for building an ecological civilization, including improvements of laws and regulations on environmental protection and action plans on prevention of air, water and soil pollutions.
"We should protect the eco-environment with the strictest regulations and laws," Xi said.
As the world's second-largest economy has entered a phase of high-quality development, green development has become a key component of its new vision of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development.
"Building a green home is our common dream. Protecting the environment and dealing with climate change requires the joint efforts of all countries," Xi said, advocating jointly building a clean and beautiful world that respects nature and favors green development.
In the past 10 years, China has ranked first in the world in increasing forest resources, with its afforestation area exceeding 70 million hectares. In China, 90 percent of terrestrial ecosystem types and 85 percent of key wild animal populations are under effective protection.
By 2019, the country's carbon emission intensity had decreased 48.1 percent compared with 2005, reversing the trend of rapid carbon dioxide emission surge, according to a white paper on energy development released Monday by the State Council Information Office.
China will strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, Xi announced at the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity in September. Speaking via video link, he called for upholding multilateralism and building synergy for global governance on the environment.
"China always honors its commitments. Guided by our new development philosophy, we will promote greener economic and social development in all respects while pursuing high-quality development," Xi said at the Climate Ambition Summit.