Fact Check
Leading climate actions with tangible efforts
By Lan Xinzhen  ·  2021-04-23  ·   Source: NO.17 APRIL 29, 2021
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a virtual meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, exchanging views on issues of common concern, including climate change, on April 16 (XINHUA)

On April 22, when speaking at a virtual climate summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the international community to work together to foster a community of life for man and nature with "unprecedented ambition and action."

In the journey toward global carbon neutrality, Xi stressed the importance of strengthening partnerships and cooperation, learning from each other, and making common progress. "We must join hands, not point fingers at each other; we must maintain continuity, not reverse course easily; and we must honor commitments, not go back on promises," he said.

Earlier, China and the United States issued a joint statement addressing the climate crisis after talks between China's Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry on April 15 and 16 in Shanghai. On April 16, Xi attended a virtual meeting with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, exchanging views on issues of common concern, including climate change.

Each of China's actions to foster international cooperation is of vital importance to the global fight against climate change.

China-EU green partnership 

China and the EU share crucial responsibilities and obligations in addressing the climate crisis. When the Donald Trump administration declared to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement in 2017, dealing a heavy blow to global efforts on climate change, it was the tightened China-EU cooperation that helped safeguard the legitimacy of the agreement and preserve the international community's confidence in the fight against climate change.

In September 2020, China and the EU undertook a high-level dialogue on the environment and climate with the aim of forging green partnerships between the two sides. In February this year, the First High-Level Environment and Climate Dialogue was held between Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng and Executive Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans via video link. This month's video talks between Xi and French and German leaders have further consolidated a consensus on climate change between China and EU countries.

During the talks, Xi expressed the Chinese stance that addressing the climate crisis is a common cause for all, and should not be used as a geopolitical bargaining chip, a target for attacking other countries, or an excuse to draw up trade barriers. China will insist on fairness and on common but differentiated responsibilities based on respective capabilities. The nation holds a view to promote the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, while pushing forward South-South cooperation on climate issues. It's hoped that developed economies will set an example in cutting carbon emissions, take the lead in fulfilling their funding contribution commitments, and provide developing countries with sufficient technologies and capabilities to support their efforts to combat climate change.

It was confirmed during Xi's meeting with Macron and Merkel that it's necessary to uphold multilateralism, and implement all aspects of the Paris Agreement; jointly build up a fair, reasonable and equitable global climate governance system; strengthen dialogues on climate policies and green development cooperation, and make climate change cooperation a pillar of China-EU cooperation.

The meeting between leaders from China, Germany and France can be viewed as a breakthrough in climate cooperation guided by politics. Sincerity and mutual trust have laid a sound foundation for the three nations, both in terms of climate cooperation and broader China-EU relations.

China-U.S.climate cooperation 

The Trump administration took a heavy toll on China-U.S. relations, leading to the stalling of many cooperation programs,

including those on climate change. After taking office in January, Biden soon listed climate change among the top items on his agenda. As the world's largest developing country and second largest economy, China is an essential partner in any U.S. administration's efforts to coordinate international action on climate change, including those of the present Biden administration.

As the joint statement reads: China and the United States are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with seriousness and urgency. Moving forward, China and the United States are firmly committed to working together and with other parties to strengthen the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

According to the joint statement, China and the United States will continue to discuss, both on the road to this year's 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Climate Change Conference and beyond, concrete actions that can be taken in the 2020s to reduce carbon emissions aimed at keeping the Paris Agreement-aligned temperature limit within reach. These concrete actions include policies, measures, and technologies to decarbonize industry and energy resources; cooperation on addressing emissions of methane and other non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases and on addressing

emissions from international civil aviation and maritime activities; and other near-term policies and measures, including those aimed at reducing emissions from fossil fuels. The two sides will cooperate to promote a successful COP26 in Glasgow, Britain, aiming to complete the implementation arrangements for the Paris Agreement.

After a five-year suspension, the resumption of China-U.S. cooperation on climate issues is a positive sign that will encourage other countries to commit to the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Fulfilling commitments 

China is actively tackling global challenges like climate change, and its contribution to global climate governance is becoming increasingly crucial.

The country is working hard to reach the goal of peaking carbon emissions before 2030 and of reaching carbon neutrality before 2060. It is preparing to make the steepest cuts to carbon emissions of any country, in order to realize the two goals more quickly than any other country.

This is undoubtedly a tough battle, but China will do everything possible to fulfill this promise. It has already factored these two goals into its overall planning for ecological improvement by pushing forward the development of a comprehensively green and low-carbon circular economy. China will implement the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbon production and consumption reflected in the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

China's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) places strong emphasis on the acceleration of green development, and includes provisions to meet the 2060 target and quantitative indexes to measure carbon intensity. It is fulfilling its commitment to addressing the climate crisis by implementing targeted measures and systems.

China's 2030 and 2060 goals mean that the nation will be shouldering the largest proportion of the cuts the international community makes to greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. This places seemingly overwhelming pressure on China, but the country is determined to take on responsibilities beyond its capacity and work unswervingly to address the global climate crisis. BR

Copyedited by G. P. Wilson 

Comments to lanxinzhen@bjreview.com 

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