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[BEIJING] China's top lawmaking body has approved its first climate change resolution, declaring that science and technology lie at the heart of the nation's fight against climate change.

Commentators say the passing of the resolution by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) last month (27 August) suggests climate change is being taken seriously in China, adding that it paves the way for climate change laws to be passed.

NPC resolutions are regarded as high-level documents stating or confirming the government's position on matters of national importance.

China hopes to strengthen its position at December's climate change negotiations in Copenhagen by staking out its position now, He Jiankun, deputy head of the State Council's expert panel on climate change policies, told SciDev.Net.

In 2007, China devised its first national plan for climate change, in which it committed to fighting greenhouse gases but not at the expense of economic development. The report stressed the importance of international cooperation in helping China secure a low-carbon economy, including the need to have access to climate change-related technology.

The new resolution shows China's commitment to developing its own science and technology in the fight against climate change, says Jiang Kejun, director of the Energy System Analysis and Market Analysis Research Center at the Energy Research Institute of China's National Development and Reform Commission.

The resolution stated: "The role of science and technology in leading and supporting the fight against climate change should be given full play".

It also demonstrates China's commitment to turning the effort to reduce carbon emissions into a source of economic growth, a development path highlighted in this week's World Development Report (see Climate mitigation needn't stifle development, says report).

"Developing science and technology related to climate change is now viewed as a necessity — for China's own development and not simply out of consideration for international climate negotiations," said Jiang.

China has also been actively exploring international collaboration for climate change-related technology transfer and research, says Jiang.

A joint research programme on clean coal technology, focusing on carbon capture and storage, is being proposed with the United States. Jiang, a member of China's working group preparing a draft for this international partnership, says an agreement is likely to be finalised over the next few months.

"Such cooperation — if possible — will set an example of how developed and developing countries can work together in the global fight against climate change," says Jiang. "It would also greatly accelerate China's development of green technology."