Chinese President Xi Jinping speaking during a two-day virtual climate summit that kicked off on April 22, 2021. Picture: Kyodo
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaking during a two-day virtual climate summit that kicked off on April 22, 2021. Picture: Kyodo

China’s six-point initiative to address global climate change

By Chen Xiaodong Time of article published Apr 28, 2021

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On April 22, President Xi Jinping was invited to attend the Leaders Summit on Climate and delivered an important speech.

He called on the international community to address together the current challenges in global environmental governance with unprecedented ambition and action, and to jointly foster a community of life for man and Nature. This has provided a clear direction for advancing global climate governance.

China has proposed a systemic solution to address global climate change. President Xi Jinping put forward at the summit a six-point initiative:

* We must be committed to harmony between man and Nature. It is important to respect and protect Nature and follow its laws and to foster a new relationship where man and Nature can both prosper and live in harmony.

* We must be committed to green development. We need to seize the enormous opportunity in green transition, let the power of innovation drive us to upgrade our economic, energy and industrial structures, and make sure that a sound environment is there to buttress sustainable economic and social development worldwide.

* We must be committed to systemic governance. We need to follow the innate laws of the ecosystem and properly balance all elements and aspects of Nature. This is a way that may take us where we want to be, an ecosystem in sound circulation and overall balance.

* We must be committed to a people-centred approach. We need to look for ways to protect the environment, grow the economy, create jobs and remove poverty all at the same time, so as to deliver social equity and justice in the course of green transition and increase people’s sense of benefit, happiness and security.

* We must be committed to multilateralism. We need to uphold the UN-centred international system, comply with the objectives and principles laid out in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement, and strive to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

* We must be committed to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Developed countries need to increase climate ambition and action. At the same time, they need to make concrete efforts to help developing countries strengthen the capacity and resilience against climate change.

China always honours its climate change commitment

President Xi reiterated the vision that China will strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

This major strategic decision is made based on our sense of responsibility to build a community with a shared future for mankind and our own need to secure sustainable development.

It is in line with the "highest possible ambition" requirement of the Paris Agreement and indeed reflects China’s highest possible climate ambition.

When developed countries took 50 to 60 years to go from carbon peak to carbon neutrality, China will take only 30 years to deliver the same.

This means that China needs to make the world's biggest cut in carbon emission intensity in the shortest time span in world history. It also means that there needs to be a broad and deep economic and social systemic change, which is an important element and active choice for China’s high-quality economic development.

The targets of carbon peak and carbon neutrality have been added to China’s overall plan for ecological conservation. We are now making an action plan to strictly limit the increase in coal consumption over the 14th Five-Year Plan period and phase it down in the 15th Five-Year Plan period.

Moreover, China has decided to accept the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol and tighten regulations over non-carbon dioxide emissions. China’s national carbon market will also start trading.

China takes the lead in global climate co-operation

As a participant, contributor and trailblazer in global ecological conservation, China attaches great importance to global cooperation against climate change.

We are firmly committed to putting multilateralism into action and promoting a fair and equitable system of global environmental governance for win-win co-operation.

China has played a key role in the conclusion, coming-into-effect and implementation of the Paris Agreement. In recent years, China has been implementing a national strategy of actively responding to climate change. We are focused on pursuing green development and a low carbon transition, laying a solid foundation for delivering the Paris Agreement. Not long ago, Chinese, French and German leaders held a video summit. China and the US issued a joint statement addressing the climate crisis. China also held an online seminar on ecological environment protection at the China Tibet Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Co-operation.

All of these engagements show that China is playing a leading role in global climate governance through multilateral and bilateral dialogue and co-operation.

China will host COP15 to the Convention on Biological Diversity this October and looks forward to working with all parties to enhance global governance on biodiversity. We support COP26 to the UNFCCC in achieving positive outcomes.

China always helps others in responding to climate change. As we in China often say, “It is more important to show people how to fish than just giving them fish”. China has done its best to help developing countries build capacity against climate change.

From remote sensing satellites for climate monitoring in Africa to low-carbon demonstration zones in South-east Asia and to energy-efficient lights in small island countries, such co-operation has yielded real, tangible and solid results.

China has also made ecological co-operation a key part of Belt and Road co-operation and pursued green infrastructure, green energy, green transport and green finance, so as to jointly build green economies with Belt and Road partner countries.

Both China and South Africa are major developing countries deeply affected by climate change.

As members of Basic countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China), we have been working together closely in various fields and at various levels to address climate change.

We are both committed to enhancing climate ambition and accelerating climate action. We both uphold the primacy of multilateralism and adherence to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. We also both emphasise the responsibilities of developed countries to support developing countries in climate mitigation and adaptation.

Our two countries share very similar positions on climate change, on promoting global climate governance and especially on protecting the interests of developing countries.

China and South Africa have decided to establish a joint working group to deliver the implementation plan of the China-South Africa MOU on Climate Change. We have also agreed on co-operating in policy exchanges, information sharing and energy transition.

There is a long way to go in addressing global climate change. China is willing to work with South Africa and Africa at large to continue to deepen South-South climate co-operation, actively promote global climate change governance, discuss climate solutions, seek ways for harmony between man and Nature, and jointly build a community of life for man and Nature.

* Chen Xiaodong is the Ambassador of China to South Africa

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