China's critical role was brought to attention by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who focussed on the country's primary responsibility in dealing with environmental pollution.
"Seven of the world's 10 most-polluted cities are in China. Your environmental footprint is growing daily," Xinhua quoted Ban, who is currently on a visit to China, as saying. He stressed that it should put greater emphasis on social equity and environmental sustainability.
Although he praised China, which is the world's most populous country with the fastest growing economy, for becoming the world's largest manufacturer and exporter, he expressed his concern saying that it has become the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases.
However, he said that China is now beginning to fight the side-effects of prosperity, climate change, environmental degradation, and poverty and added that many of these development problems were raised during discussions as Chinese leaders recently met to draw the 12th Five-Year Plan for economic and social development of the country from 2010 to 2015.
He further praised China's goal of leading the country into an all-around Xiaokang society, or well-off society by 2020, and stated that making Xiaokang a reality will, perhaps, ultimately become China's "great export - its gift to humankind."
"You already have a concept for it... Let China be the country to show the way ahead. Let China show the world how to live comfortably, in harmony with the environment while leaving none of its citizens behind," Ban said.
Talking about the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Ban said that pleased to see progress in adaptation, technological cooperation and steps to reduce deforestation, but raised concerns over the slow progress in setting mitigation targets, monitoring, verification and the future of the Kyoto Protocol.