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China Takes Lead in Fight Against Climate Change
From pledging to slash carbon emissions to promising to sign the Paris Agreement, China has been leading the push to reach a landmark Paris Agreement on time
Edited by Li Nan 

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (left) shakes hands with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN headquarters in New York, the United States on April 21. Zhang will attend the Paris climate agreement signing ceremony on April 22 as Chinese President Xi Jinping's special envoy (XINHUA)

From pledging to slash carbon emissions to promising to sign the Paris Agreement, China has been leading the push to reach a landmark Paris Agreement on time and to ensure its early adoption.

More than 165 countries have indicated that they will sign the historic climate change agreement reached in Paris last December at a signing ceremony at the UN headquarters in New York City, said the UN.

The large number of countries will set a record for the most countries to sign an international agreement on one day, previously set in 1982, when 119 countries signed the Law of the Sea Convention.

This could mean that the pact could come into force long ahead of the original 2020 deadline, as long as 55 countries, whose emissions together represent at least 55 percent of global emissions, sign the pact and then rectify it through domestic procedures.

Behind the outpouring of support lies strong political will of the majority of UN member states, among which China has done more than its part to move the process forward.

In November 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama made a historic joint announcement in Beijing, vowing to jointly push international climate change negotiations for a new agreement to be reached as planned at Paris in 2015.

Then in September, 2015, the two countries issued a joint statement in Washington to reaffirm the commitment of the two sides to reach an ambitious agreement in 2015.

In addition, the two leaders laid out a common vision for the Paris outcome and also announced major domestic policy measures and cooperative initiatives to combat climate change, as well as significant progress on climate finance.

Then on November 2, 2015, President Xi and his French counterpart Francois Hollande issued a joint statement on climate change, vowing to promote a working program to accelerate pre-2020 efforts in mitigation, adaptation and support during the Paris climate summit.

They also called for a better transparency system to build trust and confidence in the Paris pact, as well as means to review the actions and support of various parties.

Finally at the opening ceremony of the Paris climate summit on November 30 last year, President Xi reiterated China's pledge made in June, 2015, to cut its carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, and increase non-fossil fuel sources in primary energy consumption to about 20 percent and peak its carbon emissions by the same date.

With international diplomacy, the much-anticipated Paris Agreement on Climate Change is reached as planned in December 2015, setting a target of holding the global average rise in temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and preferably below 1.5 degrees.

The agreement is a major breakthrough for global climate negotiations especially after a failed climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009 and chronicle disputes among countries on respective responsibilities.

To ensure an early entry into force of the pact, China and the United States, reaffirmed their commitment to jointly tackling climate change and their plan to ink the pact on April 22, the first day of the one-year long signing period.

Countries have one year to sign the agreement as it is open for signature from April 22 to 21, 2017.

(Xinhua News Agency April 21, 2016)

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