New goals show China is serious about global climate governance, commitments
Published: Dec 13, 2020 09:11 PM

Photo: VCG

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech on Saturday at the Climate Ambition Summit on the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, where he announced some further commitments for 2030.

The commitments include a further decrease in carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by over 65 percent from the 2005 level, an increase in the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption and in the forest stock volume, as well as an advance in total installed capacity of wind and solar power. The goals that China set for 2030 can be seen as a great adjustment compared with those China set in 2015. But the commitments are practical, based on past experiences and within China's capabilities. The world has increasingly realized the importance and urgency of tackling climate change and China aims to reach a reasonably higher goal with its technological progress. No doubt, achieving these goals will face difficulties, such as how to improve the energy structure and adjust the production system, but they can still be achieved if we make the effort.

China has a good foundation in implementing the Paris Agreement, which enables it to commit more. China has already lowered its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by over 48 percent from the 2005 level by the end of 2019, and has already met and exceeded the 2020 climate action target. This shows that the country means what it says and will achieve what it has promised. 

In the five years since the signing of the Paris Agreement, China has played a leading role in the global fight against climate change. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that China is clearly proceeding "in the right direction" and "providing leadership." Apart from China's initial contribution to the adoption of the Paris Agreement and the formulation of its framework, China's practical implementation of the agreement in the past years is a tangible manifestation of how the country has promoted the idea of community of shared future for mankind in fighting climate change. Every commitment that China has made is based on careful calculation. It is never an easy job considering the large population and size of the economy. But each goal has been achieved and will be achieved through concrete actions step by step. China has demonstrated its responsibility as a major power and  tries to set an example for the rest of the world. 

It is also worth noticing that China will continue to ensure its own stable development while promoting climate governance. Over years, China's overall understanding of the relationship between economic development and climate governance has been increasingly deepened. The faster the economy develops, the more Chinese people pay attention to the environment and have a more comprehensive and in-depth judgment on which is more important. The country has the vision and wisdom to plan its development from the perspective of long-term competitiveness, which will be in how to achieve green and low-carbon growth and development. 

Climate governance is a global issue that requires multilateral cooperation. Countries should formulate plans according to their own national conditions and capabilities to achieve common goals. Meanwhile, countries that are making rapid progress in climate governance should provide understanding and support to countries that are moving slowly.

China and the US are the two largest global economies, as well as two important carbon dioxide emitters. US president-elect Joe Biden said on Sunday that the US is going to rejoin the Paris Agreement in 39 days. This is a very proactive signal. It is foreseeable that in the future, China and the US will have many opportunities for dialogues in multilateral fields, including talks between governments, experts and scholars. But it does not rule out the possibility that Biden, in the context of China-US competition, will put pressure on China on climate change issues.

If China and the US can cooperate on climate change, then it will benefit the whole world. The cooperation between the two major powers will make it easier for other countries to follow suit. When China and the US head in the same direction, then trivial differences do not matter. The concerted efforts of China and the US are definitely a good thing for the global response to climate change. 

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Wan Lin based on an interview with Duan Maosheng, deputy director of the Institute of Environmental and Energy Economics, Tsinghua University. wanlin@globaltimes.com.cn

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