Full Text: Responding to Climate Change: China's Policies and Actions

White Paper
The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China on Friday released a white paper titled "Responding to Climate Change: China's Policies and Actions."

XinhuaUpdated: October 27, 2021

IV. Building a Fair and Rational Global Climate Governance System for Win-Win Results

Due to the complexity of the problem and the many facets of the challenge, addressing climate change remains a long and arduous task that demands wide participation and a concerted effort from around the globe. China calls on the international community to take immediate action, strengthen solidarity and cooperation, and remain committed to multilateralism. The whole world should safeguard the international system with the UN at its core and the international order underpinned by international law. All countries should uphold the goals, principles and framework set in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, implement the latter in full, and build a fair and rational global climate governance system for win-win results.

1. Severe Challenges to Global Efforts on Climate Change

Human activity since the Industrial Revolution, particularly the cumulative carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the huge consumption of fossil fuels by developed countries, have led to a significant increase in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases exacerbating climate change characterized by global warming. As is stated in the State of the Global Climate 2020 released by the World Meteorological Organization, the global mean temperature for 2020 was around 1.2 °C warmer than pre-industrial times, and the last 10-year average (2011-2020) was the warmest on record. The Working Group I report of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was released in 2021, showed that human activity has caused unprecedented changes to the climate system. According to the report, the five decades since 1970 was the warmest period in the last 2,000 years. It was projected that climate warming will continue beyond the middle of the century.

Climate change has had a significant impact on the Earth's natural ecosystems. In many regions across the world, the probability and the frequency of concurrent extreme weather and climate events and compound events have risen notably. Heatwaves and droughts have hit simultaneously, and extreme sea levels and strong precipitation have caused more frequent and severe compound flooding. In 2021, some areas have been battered by heavy rainfall and consequent floods; some have seen new temperature highs; some have been ravaged by wildfires. Global warming is affecting every region on our planet, and many of the changes are irreversible. Rising temperatures and sea levels and frequent extreme climate events pose a serious challenge for the very survival of humanity and are long-term major threats to the security of global food, water, ecology, energy and infrastructure, and to people's lives and property. Therefore, addressing climate change is a task of great urgency.

2. China Provides Powerful Impetus for Global Climate Governance

China attaches great importance to international cooperation on climate change. It is an active participant in climate talks; it has contributed to the conclusion and quick implementation of the Paris Agreement; with its own vision and action it has charted the course for a new form of global climate governance. It has thus gradually moved onto the center stage of global climate governance.

China has contributed to global unity on climate governance through its leaders' climate diplomacy. President Xi Jinping has elaborated China's view on global climate governance at many events, facilitating major progress at the global level.

In 2015, he gave a keynote speech at the Paris Conference on Climate Change, making a historic contribution to the conclusion of the Paris Agreement on global climate action after 2020.

In September 2016, he deposited in person the legal instrument of China's ratification of the Paris Agreement. This was a forceful push for the agreement to take effect quickly, showing China's ambition and resolution in tackling climate change.

At critical moments when global climate governance is facing great uncertainties, President Xi has repeatedly expressed China's firm support for the Paris Agreement, pointing the direction of global climate governance and adding powerful impetus.

In September 2020, at the general debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, he announced that China will scale up its NDC, demonstrating China's resolve in applying its new development philosophy and its clear attitude to make further contributions to global efforts against climate change.

In December 2020, at the Climate Ambition Summit, President Xi announced China's further commitments for 2030 pertaining to matters such as the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, the increase in use of non-fossil fuels, and the forest stock volume.

In September 2021, at the general debate of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, he stated that China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will build no new coal-fired power projects abroad, manifesting China's sense of responsibility as a major country.

In October 2021, President Xi attended the Leaders' Summit of the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and delivered a keynote speech, in which he emphasized that to achieve its carbon peak and neutrality targets, China will release implementation plans for peaking carbon dioxide emissions in key areas and sectors as well as a series of supporting measures, and will put in place a “1+N” policy framework for carbon peak and carbon neutrality. China will continue to readjust its industrial structure and energy mix, vigorously develop renewable energy, and make faster progress in planning and developing large wind power and photovoltaic bases in sandy areas, rocky areas and deserts. The first phase of projects with an installed capacity of approximately 100 million kW has recently started construction in a smooth fashion.

China has been an active and constructive participant in international climate talks. It is committed to the principles of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities, and respective capabilities, and maintains that negotiations should be open, transparent, inclusive, party-driven and consensus-based. It played a leading role in and pressed ahead with the conclusion of key documents including the Paris Agreement. China initiated the establishment of multilateral negotiation mechanisms such as the BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change and the Ministerial on Climate Action. It actively coordinates the positions of countries within climate negotiation blocs such as the BASIC countries, the Like-Minded Developing Countries, and the Group of 77 and China, playing an important role in maintaining the unity of developing countries and defending their common interests. China actively participates in climate negotiations through the Group of 20, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Maritime Organization, the BRICS meetings and so forth, promoting the synergy of multiple channels and multilateral processes.

China provides assistance and support within its means to other developing countries to tackle climate change. China engages in South-South cooperation on climate change with other developing countries. It has done its best to help those countries – in particular small island states, the least developed countries, and African countries – to build capacity to fight climate change and reduce the adverse impact of climate change. This cooperation has yielded real, tangible and solid results. Since 2011, China has allocated about RMB1.2 billion for South-South climate cooperation and signed 40 cooperation documents with 35 countries. It has helped countries to build low-carbon demonstration zones and provided them with climate-related supplies such as meteorological satellites, PV power generation and lighting equipment, NEVs, environmental monitoring devices, and clean cookstoves. It has trained about 2,000 officials and professionals in the field of climate change for nearly 120 developing countries.

China offers its approach to global climate governance through building a green silk road. China aims to promote green development and is working with relevant partners to build a green silk road. It emphasizes the importance of an active response to the challenges of climate change and calls for closer results-oriented cooperation in implementing the Paris Agreement and in other areas. In 2021, China and 28 other countries launched the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Green Development, advocating that climate change can be addressed through actions guided by the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, weighted against different national circumstances. China is working with relevant countries to implement the Belt and Road South-South Cooperation Initiative on Climate Change, establish the Belt and Road Energy Partnership, and facilitate actions on ecological conservation and climate change.

3. Tackling Climate Change: China's Initiatives

Addressing climate change is a cause shared by all of humanity. Faced with unprecedented challenges in global climate governance, the international community needs to respond with unprecedented ambition and action. We need to act with a sense of responsibility and unity, take proactive measures, and work together to pursue harmony between humanity and nature.

We must commit to sustainable development. Climate change results from unsustainable development models, thus it can be fundamentally resolved only by taking coordinated actions within the framework of sustainable development. All countries should integrate climate action into their national overall plans for sustainable development, promote a green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable approach to life and work, and foster a model of sustainable development featuring increased output, higher living standards, and healthy ecosystems.

We must commit to multilateralism. International affairs should be addressed by all parties involved through consultation, and the future of the world should be shaped by all countries acting together. In meeting the climate challenge, no one can isolate themselves and unilateralism will get us nowhere. Only by upholding multilateralism, unity and cooperation can we deliver shared benefits for all nations. State-to-state relations should be coordinated and regulated through proper institutions and rules. The strong should not abuse the weak. Rules, once made, should be followed by all. They should never be options which are observed or abandoned according to national interests. This is an effective way of jointly addressing climate change that must be respected by all of the international community.

We must commit to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. This is the cornerstone of global climate governance. Developed and developing countries shoulder different historical responsibilities for climate change, and they also have different development needs and capabilities. Therefore, it is unreasonable and unfair to enforce uniform restrictions on them. We should take into account different national circumstances and capabilities, and uphold the institutions according to which every country determines its contribution and does its part to the best of its ability. No one-size-fits-all standards should be adopted. Particular difficulties and concerns of developing countries should be accommodated. Developed countries should play an exemplary role in climate action and support developing countries in financing, technology, and capacity building.

We must commit to win-win cooperation. The world is undergoing changes of a scale unseen in a century, and humanity is in an era in which challenges emerge one after another and risks increase with each passing day. Non-conventional security threats including climate change are spreading. No country is immune from such challenges. The whole world needs to work together in solidarity and engage in cooperation. Countries should learn from each other and make common progress in a global effort to combat climate change, with the goal of achieving shared development for all.

We must commit to concrete actions. The key to addressing climate change lies in action. In implementing the Paris Agreement, we must maintain continuity and honor commitments. We must not be diverted from our course, turn about, or pay lip service. All countries should actively fulfill the NDCs they themselves have set, and turn goals into concrete policies, measures and actions.

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