The United Nations has once again praised the Chinese government for its environmental efforts in using greener sources of energy.

Christiana Figueres, the UN's climate chief, told reporters during a recent interview that China understands the importance of making such green efforts.

She explained that the country follows the most stringent standards for energy efficiency for building construction and transportation. Its patronage of photovoltaic technology has also led to an 80 percent reduction of solar-panel expenses since 2008.

Figueres added that the Chinese government is faced with growing pressure from the public as more and more of its citizens call for a reduction in air pollution caused by widespread use of coal. She said that this has led to China's switch to renewable and efficient sources of energy, believing that it will produce better results in the long run.

"They actually want to breathe air that they don't have to look at," Figueres said.

"They're not doing this because they want to save the planet. They're doing it because it's in their national interest."

The UN climate chief went on to say that the Chinese government is able to carry out such green policies because its system of politics allows it to avoid some legislative restrictions that are present in other nations such as the United States.

In China, government appointments, reforms and key policies are decided on during meetings of the 200-member Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party. Decisions made during these meetings are largely enforced by the country's unicameral legislature known as the National People's Congress.

The U.S. Congress, on the other hand, faces a political divide that has effectively hindered efforts to pass key legislation on climate issues. Figueres said that this is very detrimental to efforts against climate change.

As the United Nations chief adviser on climate change, Figueres assumes an active role in helping guide the organizations' 190 member nations in its initiative to create an international agreement to combat global warming.

The UN's objective is to have the treaty signed by 2015 for it to take effect by 2020. If signed, the new international treaty will replace the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted by the nations in 1997.

The Kyoto treaty was the only one of its kind to feature restrictions on emissions by requiring industrialized countries to limit pollutants while leaving less developed nations to voluntarily make commitments.

In 2011, Canada withdrew its support of the treaty, while Japan and Russia rejected new targets proposed after 2012. The United States, for its part, decided not to ratify the Kyoto agreement.

Photo: UN Climate Change | Flickr 

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