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Zhao Minghao: Beijing’s principled climate stance can set example for whole world


By Zhao Minghao    Source: Global Times    Published: 2015-12-3


The whole world hopes the Paris Climate Conference turns a new page in global climate change. A legally binding climate accord to curb global warming is expected to be reached during the summit. Climate change is no longer a topic only to the interests of scientists, but also a high politics agenda closely connected to everyone`s life. This is particularly true for China. Pressured by ecological and environmental problems, China`s rise is facing increasing challenges. This is also the reason why Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the Paris summit.

During the meeting, Xi showed the world Beijing`s determination and leadership in tackling global warming. Xi claimed in his opening speech that climate change has been included in the country`s national economic and social development plan. China pledges to peak carbon emission by 2030, or earlier. Beijing`s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution also aims to reduce carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65 percent, to raise the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to approximately 20 percent, and to increase forest stock by around 4.5 billion cubic meters by 2030 from the 2005 level.

It is increasingly essential for all nations, developed and developing ones, to shoulder responsibilities in tackling global warming when the climate accords lack authority.

While pledging additional responsibility, Xi calls for more support to be offered to developing nations, especially landlocked nations and small islands. One of the biggest challenges facing climate governance is that developed and developing states have formed their own camps. As a developing nation, China hopes to help alleviate the confrontation between the rich and the poor.

In September, Xi announced the setting up of a 20-billion-yuan ($3.1 billion) China South-South Climate Cooperation Fund. China is expected to launch cooperation projects with developing countries in 2016 - establishing 10 pilot low carbon industrial parks, starting 100 mitigation and adaptation programs, and providing them 1,000 training opportunities on climate change. Disadvantaged nations need to help each other, and China understands well the aspirations of other developing countries. Beijing is willing to offer financial support to disadvantaged nations in developing clean energy, climate-adaptive agriculture, low-carbon intelligent cities and so forth.

Given the tremendous achievements China has made in coping with global warming in the past few years, Xi has the confidence to put forward the above goals and initiatives. In 2014, China`s carbon emission per unit of GDP has decreased by 6.1 percent on a year-on-year basis. At the same time, China has gone through a low-key and extremely meaningful transformation: It has become the world`s largest user of new and renewable energy. China`s installed capacity of renewable energy is 24 percent of the global total.

Beijing is now viewing climate change from the perspective of enhancing global governance. This is a paradigm shift in China`s global strategy. Xi pointed out that as an important part of global governance, tackling climate change is a shared mission for humanity, and mirrors a new model in which each country does its fair share. Coincidently, the International Monetary Fund agreed to include the yuan in the Special Drawing Rights on Tuesday. This is the recognition of Beijing`s leading status in the international economy and financial management. Yet, Beijing is also fully aware that taking on a global leadership in tackling climate change is equally important.

As Xi has said, the Paris conference is not the finishing line, but a new starting point. The world will witness China`s new contribution to tackling global warming in the near future. A rising China, with a population of nearly 1.4 billion, is becoming greener and more active in undertaking new international responsibilities.

The author is a visiting fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.

Key Words: climate   China   world  

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