By China correspondent Stephen McDonell
ABC News Online, 11 March 2009
A deputy director of China's most powerful economic ministry has come out swinging against climate change denial.
Senior Chinese government figures have described the view that climate change is not man-made as an "extreme" stance which is out of step with mainstream thought.
The comments were made during China's annual sitting of the National People's Congress.
During the congress, a series of press conferences are held which, in many cases, are the only chance to put questions to members of China's power elite.
Last night, one such press conference was held on the subject of climate change.
The ABC asked the panel what they thought of the view that climate change had nothing to do with human activity and was in fact a natural phenomenon.
Xie Zhenhua, a deputy director at China's powerful economic ministry, the National Development and Reform Commission, answered that he believed that made-made climate change denial is, at best, a very marginal view.
"Climate change is a fact based on long-time observations by countries around the world," he said.
"There are two different views regarding the causes for global warming.
"The mainstream view is that climate change is caused by burning of fossil fuel in the course of industrialisation.
"There's a more extreme view which holds that human activity has only an imperceptible impact on the natural system."
He said the responsibility for this climate change rested squarely with the Western world, so the onus was on it to clean up the mess caused in the rush to industrialisation.
"The climate in China is warming. It's something every one of us can feel," he said.
"Climate change is having an impact on China in terms of the instability of agricultural output.
"There's now more flooding in the south of China and increasing shortages of water in the north. Forests and grasslands are being eroded and there are more typhoons and storm surges along our coast.
"So, if you look ahead to the long term, climate change may have a huge impact on China's food security and the life and property of our people."
The chairman of the Congress Environmental and Resources Protection Committee, Wang Guangtao, also spoke.
He acknowledged there were some experts who believed current statistics on climate change were not reliable enough.
But he said that merely meant more work needed to be done on the minutiae of the statistics.
He said that did not detract from the pressing need to reduce fossil fuels and expand the world's forest coverage.