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China and South Africa join hands to pursue green development

The new Ambassador-designate of the People's Republic of China to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong. Photo: Supplied/Embassy of China in South Africa

The new Ambassador-designate of the People's Republic of China to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong. Photo: Supplied/Embassy of China in South Africa

Published Dec 18, 2020

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By H.E. Ambassador Chen Xiaodong of China to South Africa

The Covid-19 pandemic is triggering deep reflections on the relationship between man and nature. Faced with the impact of the pandemic and unilateralism, it is an urgent task for the international community, including China and South Africa, to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and join hands for post-Covid-19 green recovery.

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In his video speech at the Climate Ambition Summit in commemoration of the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement on December 12, President Xi Jinping made three proposals for global climate governance, namely, to close ranks and make new advances in climate governance that features win-win co-operation, to raise ambition and foster a new architecture of climate governance where every party does its part, and to boost confidence and pursue a new approach to climate governance that highlights green recovery.

President Xi also announced four new measures to scale up China’s nationally determined contributions, namely, China will cut its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by more than 65% from the 2005 level, raise the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 25%, increase the forest stock volume by 6 billion cubic meters from the 2005 level, and bring its installed capacity of wind and solar power to more than 1.2 billion kilowatts.

This is another major policy announcement after President Xi pledged, at the General Debate of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly in September this year, that China would peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

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It not only demonstrates China’s firm determination to accelerate green and low-carbon development and achieve high-quality development under the guidance of the new development philosophy, but also speaks volumes about China’s constructive participation in global climate governance, earnest fulfilment of its responsibilities as a major country, as well as its endeavour to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

China is committed to green and low-carbon development. President Xi pointed out that green mountains and clear waters are as precious as silver and gold. China has made ecological conservation a basic state policy, vigorously advocated a green and low-carbon way of life and production, and committed itself to green and sustainable development.

The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China made it clear that China would follow the philosophy of innovative, co-ordinated, green, open and shared development and promote high-quality development. China’s development has always been defined by the key word “Green”. China stands for strengthening international co-operation, sharing international responsibilities, jointly addressing global climate change, and working with other countries to build a beautiful Earth.

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At the General Debate of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, President Xi called on all parties to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, abide by the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” and provide more assistance to developing countries, small island countries in particular.

President Xi reiterated, at the Climate Ambition Summit, that all countries were welcome to support the Paris Agreement, and developed countries needed to scale up support for developing countries in financing, technology transfer and capacity building.

China has made solid contribution to global climate governance. As the world’s largest developing country and major energy consumer whose energy mix is dominated by coal, China faces a formidable task for industrial transformation and upgrading and achieving green and low-carbon development.

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In spite of such a situation, China always honours its commitment to tackling climate change. By the end of last year, China’s carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP had been reduced by 48.1% from the 2005 level, and non-fossil fuels accounted for 15.3% of primary energy consumption. China has outperformed its 2020 climate action targets ahead of schedule, thus making major contributions to addressing global climate change. China is also the country with the largest investment in renewable energy and owns more than half of the world’s new energy vehicles.

The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee made it clear that China needed to redouble its efforts to promote green and low-carbon development. The Session also put forward concrete measures such as formulating an action plan to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and promoting market-based trading of carbon emission rights, in order to achieve the green transformation of economic and social development in all respects.

China always honours its word. Going forward, China’s pace of ecological conservation will get even faster.

China is a staunch partner for Africa’s sustainable development. The Chinese and African people share the common aspiration for a beautiful environment and a better life. In conducting co0operation with Africa, China pursues green development and cherishes Africa’s environment and long-term interests. Our two sides have deepened co-operation on climate change and environmental protection under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac). The 2018 Beijing Focac Summit proposed to implement the Eight Major Initiatives, including green development. Up to now, many co-operation projects on green environmental protection and clean energy have been launched.

China is committed to working with African countries for high-quality and green Belt and Road co-operation. China, South Africa and Africa enjoy huge potential and broad prospects for co-operation in renewable energy. According to the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan President Cyril Ramaphosa unveiled, South Africa will have adequate, safe and reliable energy supply within two years, accelerate the integrated energy plan, and give priority to the development of renewable energy and green economy. China’s annual investment in renewable energy has totalled more than $100 billion for five-consecutive years.

China Longyuan Power Group in South Africa, the world’s largest renewable energy power generation company, has invested R2 billion to build a wind power project with a total generating capacity of 244.45 megawatts in Northern Cape, which has become a model for high-quality and green project in China-South Africa co-operation on clean and renewable energy. We will encourage more Chinese companies to co-operate with South Africa for green and sustainable development.

Aiming for green recovery after the pandemic, China will continue to join hands with South Africa and Africa to advocate green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable development, and actively participate in the global climate governance process. In doing this, we will make China and Africa beautiful homelands where man and nature coexist in harmony, and jointly build a community of green development.

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.

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