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  • Antarctic glaciers are threatened by climate change, and are a major factor in sea level rise.

    Antarctic glaciers are threatened by climate change, and are a major factor in sea level rise. | Photo: Reuters

Protecting Antarctica, which is threatened by climate change, is in "the interests of all humanity," the Chinese vice premier said Tuesday.

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli has called on the international community for greater cooperation with efforts to protect Antarctica from environmental damage and climate change, Xinhua reported Tuesday.

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Speaking at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) in Beijing on Tuesday, Zhang said, “It is in line with the interests of all humanity and our commitment to our offspring to have an Antarctica of peaceful, stable, green and sustainable development.”

His opening remarks to the meeting, which is being held in Beijing for the first time and was attended by 400 delegates from 44 different countries, emphasized the need to strike a balance between protection and utilization of the delicate and important Antarctic ecosystems.

Zhang called on all countries to abide by the Antarctic treaty and to respect international laws and decisions regarding Antarctic protection.

For their own part, the Chinese representatives at the meeting reiterated China's commitment to the treaty and their efforts to promote scientific research of Antarctica. According to Xinhua, the country has opened four research bases for data collection in Antarctica, where extreme conditions make research difficult.

China has also raised their financial support to international Antarctic research projects, investing about US$45 million in such projects between 2001 and 2016.

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Along with India, China has recently been praised for their efforts to slow greenhouse gas production. Although it remains the largest greenhouse gas producer in the world, it has invested heavily in alternative forms of energy and has reduced its dependency on coal.

Beijing recently canceled plans for over 100 new coal-fired power plants, some of which were already under construction. Cancellation of those plants, totaling 120 gigawatts of capacity, adds up to savings of about 750 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Antarctica is heavily affected by climate change, and rapidly melting glaciers is the main contributer to sea level rise which threatens to flood coastal cities around the world.

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