Nation to play pivotal role in talks to carry out Paris pact, envoy says
... whatever policy the incoming Trump administration adopts, China can always deepen its cooperation with the US to fight climate change ...
China will act as facilitator to boost climate negotiations on implementing the Paris Agreement, regardless of the stance that the-United States takes, the nation’s top climate representative said on Tuesday.
Xie Zhenhua, a veteran negotiator who led a team of more than 80 representatives from China, said on Tuesday that China has positioned itself as an active promoter and will play a constructive part in negotiations aiming to turn the Paris pledges into actions.
The landmark climate agreement aims to limit the global temperature increase to less than 2 C and strive to hold it to 1.5 C.
“China will not change its goals submitted to the-United Nations, as well as its approaches or stances to implement the Paris Agreement,” said-Xie.
He was referring to China’s developing country status and its pledges in the climate pact to peak emissions around 2030 and transition to a green and sustainable development model.
“All the three will not be changed by other countries, including the United States,” he added.
Xie made the comment after Jonathan Pershing, the United States special envoy, said on Monday in Marrakech that he did not know about the future of climate policy under Donald Trump’s presidency. He was responding to concerns about a possible US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.
Xie said he was not surprised by the US response.
“The nation is undergoing a transition phase. Climate policy is not the only unknown faced by the United States,” said Xie.
“China will just keep moving on. We need to treasure efforts that we have made.”
Negotiators from nearly 200 parties to the agreement have gathered in Marrakech, Morocco, for the two-week United Nations Climate Conference from Nov 7 to Friday.
They are expected to come up with a text on road maps to implement the Paris Agreement by the end of Friday.
However, the election of Trump as the next president of the US, the world’s second-carbon emitter, overshadowed the climate talks.
Trump refused during his campaign to concede that climate change is caused by human activities.
Gou Hongbo, deputy chief of the Chinese delegation, said that China’s firm attitude to implement the Paris pact has injected some confidence into the difficult talks.
Gao Xiang, a negotiator with the Chinese delegation, said he was optimistic about the results of this year’s climate talks.
Negotiations on transparency rules, which are a fundamental issue in implementing the Paris Agreement, were conducted early this week, according to Gao.
“There is some good progress being made in this aspect,” he said. “We might have to leave some topics for next year, but the result will not be too bad.”
China will not change its goals submitted to the United Nations ... to implement the Paris Agreement.” Xie Zhenhua, China’s top climate representative
What will be Donald Trump’s impact on Sino-US cooperation on climate change after he is sworn in asUS president in January?
According to the Paris climate change agreement, theUS has promised to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and 26 to 28 percent by 2025 compared with the 2005 level. That target cannot be realized unless theUS honors its commitment by taking appropriate action.
To meet its promise, theUS has to transform its power plants, currently the largest greenhouse gas emitters, into green sources of energy. But that seems unlikely, because theUS Supreme Court has decided to postpone the move.
Nevertheless, certainUS states and industries have already started taking measures to reduce emissions, and their policies and actions might in turn influence theUS federal government’s eventual decision. For example, the percentage of coal-generated electricity in theUS’ power industry mix dropped from about 50 percent in 2008 to 33 percent in 2015 thanks to the “shale gas revolution”. And thermal plants were using greener power-generating methods. Therefore, there is reason to be optimistic.
Besides, some experts say that almost allUS presidential candidates play the “China-card” during the election campaign, yet after entering office, they maintain good relations with China because it is in the best interest of Washington.
It is uncertain whether Trump will act on what he said during his campaign— of taking action against China if he won the presidency. But whether or not Trump honors the Barack Obama administration’s promise to fight climate change on a priority basis, Beijing has to continue its dia- logue and interactions with Washington on the issue, because by pushing joint efforts forward, it will serve the common interests of all as well as increase its global influence.
Therefore, China should continue its global multilateral climate governance and stick to the Beijing-Washington cooperative framework. Fighting climate change is important on multilateral platforms, not least because China has gained a leadership status on the issue. It’s time China made good use of that leadership and strengthened global cooperation.
Besides, if the China-US cooperative mechanism comes to a halt, China should encourage cooperation at the local governmental level and through unofficial channels. For the past several years, Chinese and US cities have forged cooperative relationships to fight climate change, and the two countries have made joint statements on climate change. China should make better use of such cooperative mechanisms to deepen China-US cooperation.
In other words, whatever policy the incoming Trump administration adopts, China can always deepen its cooperation with the US to fight climate change because that will not only serve the interests of both sides, but also expand Beijing’s global influence. The author is director of the International Cooperation Department in National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation.