Recently, China, France and Germany held a video summit on climate change, and the US held the Leaders Summit on Climate. Leaders from nearly 40 countries, including China, attended the summit. How does China view the importance of global co-operation on climate change?
Nowadays, climate change has posed increasingly severe challenges to human lives and development. In the past decade, global temperatures have risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius, the world’s largest iceberg has melted and broken apart, global sea level continues to rise, and hundreds of millions of people are at risk of losing their homeland.
The Covid-19 pandemic not only threatens global public health and economic development, but also slows the pace of our response to climate change. In the post-pandemic era, it has become a prominent question for the international community about how to fight the pandemic while ensuring economic recovery and addressing the challenge of climate change.
At this critical juncture of history, President Xi Jinping attended the Leaders’ Climate Summit and delivered an important speech, proposed the concept of “a community of life for man and nature” for the first time, pointing out the right direction for global co-operation on climate change.
Could you elaborate on President Xi’s concept of “a community of life for man and nature”?
The concept of “a community of life for man and nature” is consistent with our national climate strategy we’ve been implementing; it can be concluded as 6 commitments:
First, we must be committed to harmony between man and nature. We must treat nature as our most basic treasure, respect nature, protect the nature and follow the orders of nature. We should protect nature and preserve the environment like we protect our own eyes, and endeavour to foster a new relationship where man and nature coexist in harmony.
Second, we must be committed to green development – green mountains are gold mountains. We need to seize the enormous opportunity in green transition, and promote the transformation and upgrading of economy, energy and industrial structures in order to guarantee a sound environment. It is also the most valuable source for sustainable economic and social development worldwide.
Third, we must be committed to systemic governance. We need to follow the innate orders of the ecosystem and properly treat all elements and aspects of nature. This will enable an ecosystem with sound circulation and overall balance.
Fourth, we must be committed to a people-centred approach. We need to look for ways to protect the environment, grow the economy, create jobs and remove poverty all at the same time so as to deliver social equity and justice in the course of a green transition, and increase people’s sense of benefit, happiness and security.
Fifth, we must be committed to multilateralism. We need to work on the basis of international law, follow the principle of equity and justice, and focus on effective actions. We need to uphold the UN-centred international system, comply with the objectives and principles laid out in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement (UNFCCC), and strive to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDA).
Sixth, we must be committed to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. We need to give full recognition to developing countries’ contribution to climate actions and accommodate their particular difficulties and concerns. Developed countries need to increase climate ambition and actions, and at the same time, help developing countries and support them in financing, technology, and capacity building.
Could you brief us on the measures China has taken in addressing climate change and promoting ecological progress in recent years?
As a participant, contributor and leading partner in global ecological conservation, China is firmly striving to build a community of life for man and nature with practical actions.
China actively implements the Paris Agreement and is an advocate for global climate governance. China has achieved its carbon reduction target for 2020 ahead of schedule. Last September, China made the official announcement that we will peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060 in the short period of 30 years. This makes China a country with the highest reduction in carbon intensity in the world, and it will have achieved the transition from carbon peak to carbon neutral in the shortest time in global history, which fully demonstrates our greatest determination and sense of responsibility in addressing climate change. China’s carbon-neutral vision could reduce global warming by 0.2 to 0.3 degrees Celsius, according to analysts.
China is actively promoting ecological civilisation and is a practitioner of green development. Over the past 8 years, China has cut energy consumption per unit of GDP by nearly 25%, equivalent to a reduction in coal consumption of 1.27 billion tons. In the past 30 years, while 420 million hectares of forests have been destroyed globally, China’s forest and grassland area has increased by 33 million hectares. China is committed to promoting afforestation and counter-desertification, creating a miracle of “turning deserts into oasis”. Qiemo County in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, is located on the southern edge of the Taklimakan Desert. Nearly one third of the land was once desertified, and the desert was approaching the city centre with only 2 kilometres away. Today, a “green corridor” with a length of more than 20 kilometres and a width of 7 kilometres has been built here, significantly improving local ecology and living environment.
What do you think Qatar and China have in common on climate change and other global environmental issues?
On climate change and other global environmental governance, China and Qatar share similar views and philosophies.
We both uphold the concept of green development. China has incorporated the concept of building a ecological civilisation into our Constitution. Qatar has made environment protection a focus of its “National Vision 2030” and is committed to building a low-carbon and sustainable World Cup in 2022.
We both advocate the path of global co-operation. China has carried out South-South co-operation in various forms, such as initiating co-operation funds, and has done its best to help developing countries to enhance their capacity in coping with climate change. Qatar has also taken an active part in international co-operation on climate change.
In 2019, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani announced a contribution of $100 million to support small developing island states and the least developed countries to deal with climate change.
We both adhere to the principle of multilateralism. As one of the first signatories to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), China is committed to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement, actively promoting global dialogue on climate policy and co-operation on green development, jointly building a fair, equitable and win-win global climate governance system. Qatar is also an important partner and has always been advocating co-operation in coping with climate change and playing a positive role in implementing the Paris Agreement.
What kind of co-operation can China and Qatar carry out in addressing climate change in the next stage?
As we say in China, “When people pull together, nothing is too heavy to be lifted.” Climate change is the mutual responsibility of both China and Qatar, and also an inherent part of China-Qatar strategic partnership. In the next stage, we will work together with solidarity and mutual assistance to fulfil our commitments, and offer our positive contributions to climate issues and environment challenges, and jointly promote global environmental governance.
China and Qatar should be practitioners of green development. We are glad to see that Chinese technology and Chinese solutions are becoming increasingly popular in Qatar’s green development. We have signed a co-operation agreement on the beautification projects of Doha, under which Yutong Bus Corporation will provide more than 1,000 new energy buses for the 2022 World Cup. China is ready to work with Qatar to build consensus on strengthening green governance and promoting sustainable development, expand co-operation in green infrastructure, green energy and green finance, and contribute to our sustainable economic and social development.
China and Qatar should be advocates of multilateralism. We should support the United UN and other international organisations in playing their due roles in climate change, and play a constructive role in implementing the 2030 SDA, with international treaties such as Convention on Biological Diversity, the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement as the legal basis. China will host COP15 Conference this October. We welcome Qatar to attend the conference and look forward to working together to enhance global governance on biodiversity.
China and Qatar should be defenders of the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, which is the cornerstone of global climate governance. China is ready to work with Qatar to further consolidate the principle, strengthen South-South co-operation on climate change, and provide financial, technological and capacity building support to developing countries, while opposing setting up green trade barriers.
Since the beginning of this year, I and colleagues from the Chinese embassy have participated in Qatar’s “Plant Million Trees” initiative many times and planted trees by ourselves. We believe that China-Qatar co-operation on climate change, like these trees, will grow stronger and spread its branches under the care of both sides, which will create a shelter for the development of our two countries and leave a clean and beautiful world for future generations.
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