Climate cooperation between China, West not affected by tension: observers
Published: Mar 24, 2021 11:47 PM
Photo: website

Chinese officials attended the Ministerial on Climate Action conference. Photo: Courtesy of Ministry of Ecology and Environment

China will adopt more effective policies and measures to implement the goal of controlling carbon dioxide emissions and it expects the US to catch up following its return to the Paris agreement, according to China's climate officials at a virtual climate conference on Tuesday.

Despite recent tension, there is still much potential for China and Western countries to come together and engage on climate issues, observers said.

Tuesday's conference, known as the Ministerial on Climate Action, is an annual meeting set up by China, the European Union and Canada in 2017, and 40 ministerial representatives including John Kerry, the US special envoy on climate issues, attended the meeting.

Xie Zhenhua, China's climate envoy, pointed out in his speech that the international community should further strengthen unity and jointly deal with the challenge of climate change as the Paris agreement has entered a critical stage.

"All parties should adhere to multilateralism, work together to promote sustainable development, gather political consensus for the success of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, and promote the comprehensive, balanced and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement," Xie said.

In his speech Xie welcomed the US' return to the Paris agreement and said he expected the US to catch up and fulfill its role in the climate issue.

The event signaled that there is still huge potential for collaboration between China and the US and EU on climate change, despite the recent tensions, Zou Ji, president of Energy Foundation China, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The virtual meeting comes on the heels of talks last week in Alaska and EU sanctions on China over Xinjiang.

"Climate has emerged as a promising area for collaboration for China and the US, where both countries have more in common than differences. As the bilateral relations face tension, both sides could seek cooperation [in this area]," he said. "It is expected China and the US could carry out exchange and dialogues from the technology perspective." 

Tackling climate change and minimizing its effects is a priority for the EU and with China's commitment toward carbon neutrality there are great prospects for all-round cooperation between the two sides, Yang Fuqiang, a senior advisor on climate and energy with the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Beijing-based consultancy, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Regarding China-US climate cooperation, Yang said he expected inter-regional cooperation between enterprises and business sectors following a signal from high-level leaders of the two countries.

Last September, China made a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, with emissions peaking before 2030.

Chinese Minister of Ecology and Environment Huang Runqiu said that China will step up its efforts to control emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases, accelerate the construction and operation of the national carbon market, vigorously promote the innovation and application of low-carbon technologies, and continuously promote the comprehensive green transformation of economic and social development.

From 2005 to 2020, China's GDP increased 4.5 times while the carbon intensity dropped by 48.4 percent, and the proportion of non-fossil fuel energy has increased from 7.4 percent to 15.9 percent, exceeding the country's climate targets, Huang said.