In recent years, China has stepped up its efforts in environmental conservation, and a series of ambitious green programs are underway. In September 2020, China announced its pledge to have carbon dioxide emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. In January 2021, a complete 10-year fishing ban kicked off in the pivotal waters of the Yangtze River; and in October 2021, China officially designated the first group of national parks, a move that will further improve the national park system.
As one of the major tasks for 2022, Premier Li Keqiang emphasized improving the environment and promoting green and low-carbon development in the government work report delivered on March 5. "We will protect biodiversity and advance the development of the national park-based nature reserve system," Li said.
China's determination of green transition is an important part of global actions, featuring a lot of international cooperation in specific fields. WildAid is a U.S.-based environmental organization with the mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors, such as Jackie Chan, Yao Ming, and David Beckham, and a global network of media partners, WildAid has launched a number of public awareness campaigns in China. One of its most influential slogans is, "When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too." With years of working experience with the Chinese government and its Chinese counterparts, WildAid has kept paying attention to China's biodiversity and climate actions.
WildAid Chief Program Officer John Baker has been keeping close watching on China's green development achievements and the specific measures that have been taken in China. He shared his opinions with China Today during China's Two Sessions.
China Today (CT): What do you think of China's environmental conservation efforts and targets mentioned by Premier Li in the government work report?
John Baker: Biodiversity conservation is clearly stated in the government work report as a top priority. This follows the statement in the Kunming Biodiversity Conference COP 15 last year, where the government announced they would be developing national strategies and action plan. And we very much look forward to working with them on implementing them for environmental preservation. The government work report also mentions that the climate 1+N policy framework for the carbon neutral goal. This is highly important and we do look forward to working with the government on helping to implement that plan.
CT: How do you view China's changes and improvements in ecological protection in terms of policy guidance over the past several years?
John Baker: After reviewing the government's plan for the past few years, the government is getting much more specific about their environmental actions. The National Park System will be an important strategy for protecting 30 percent of the land and ocean resources. We are especially proud to work with Chinese partners at the national Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park. We are working with Ambassador Wu Jing to do a communication campaign, talking about the importance of protecting tigers and how the national parks are protecting critical environmental resources. We are also looking forward to working with the government on new marine reserves where we can bring international experience from other projects where we have been helping to improve conservation.
CT: Which Chinese government policies on animal protection impressed you most based on your work experience?
John Baker: We are very impressed by the list of wildlife species under state protection. It includes doubling the number of species that are now protected by law and adds 60 new aquatic species for protection including sea turtles and the Yangtze River dolphin. This is going to be highly important to protecting animals throughout China. Also very important is the treatment of pangolins. Eight months before the revised list was announced, pangolin species were up-listed to Class I protected animals. And this is going to really help protecting pangolins around the world and recovering the pangolin species in China. Finally, the enforcement action by China customs, police cracking down on illegal wildlife trade, and international cooperation on wildlife trading networks is showing China’s leadership around the world on protecting wildlife.