The source of vitality for UN climate talks

Release time:

2022-05-24 09:21

The UN climate talks are currently taking place in Doha. Significant changes are taking place in the global economy and politics, most notably in China.

China is at a critical juncture. The Chinese government has already made decisions about how to address some of the major challenges in the current development model in the coming years. There are many positive signals from these decisions, especially with regard to the green economy. Just during the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in early November, "ecological civilization" was included in China's overall development plan and became a striking highlight in General Secretary Hu Jintao's report.

Earlier this year, Li Keqiang, who will be China's new premier, visited Europe and launched several new processes in urbanization, renewable energy and energy security, marking a new level of cooperation between China and Europe in clean energy.

The 12th Five-Year Plan reflects China's domestic plan to address climate change is astounding. Accelerating progress towards a low-carbon economy has become a broad consensus within China as China becomes the global leader in wind and solar production. The so-called "China sneezes, the world catches a cold" cliché also works here, as long as China is determined to "take the lead," the rest of the world will follow suit.

The Doha meeting is important because the international climate negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are an important channel through which China can strengthen its low-carbon economy and help shape the global development model in various ways. Europe is the largest market for China's solar power equipment. However, due to the uncertainty of the global climate mechanism, the negotiation on the climate change response plan within Europe has been repeatedly delayed, so it cannot provide a larger market for China.

China has always been reluctant to take the lead on the global stage, but it has made great strides on climate change. In the past negotiations, the positions of China and the United States have been seriously at odds for many years, and they have fallen into a deadlock of "you act, I will act". However, we still see positive changes. At the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009, China stepped out of the back of the Americans, and stood side by side with the United States at the Cancun conference in 2010 and the Durban conference in 2011. In Durban, China played an important role in promoting consensus on the process and deadline for a legally binding, comprehensive global agreement on climate change in 2015.

However, many major emitters have not, like China, set out to adjust their development models to deal with future global risks such as resource shortages. Rich and poor, many countries are still too busy figuring out the linkages between climate change, energy, water and economic growth with no thoughtful planning for their economies. This is evident in the relationship between the vulnerability of the U.S. economy this year and severe droughts and storms.

Chinese cultural traditions focus on "harmony" between man and nature, which is exactly what Hu Jintao advocates, and demonstrates the country's ability and willingness to deal with long-term global risks and to plan ahead. Hu Jintao's "scientific outlook on development" has charted a more sustainable development path for China over the past decade. As a platform, the UNFCCC should provide China with an opportunity to work with other countries to deepen a systematic understanding of global risks, and on this basis, strengthen global economic and ecological stability.

China creates new climate alliance

But at this year's Doha meeting, China's negotiating authority will be limited as the new leadership needs time to settle in. Without a strong mandate, the Chinese delegation may just have been instructed to "don't make trouble." This was very clear in the recent speech by Head of the delegation, Xie Zhenhua, who only promised that China would play a constructive role in pushing the Durban Agreement forward. effect.

But China has also kept options open. Xie Zhenhua has recently chaired several meetings with the BASIC and the Like-minded Group, a new, non-fixed alliance of developing countries that produce fossil fuels. Keeping all options open and pragmatic is clearly China's climate negotiating strategy during the leadership transition.

At the negotiating table, China is very pragmatic in its strategy and alliances, but it is also guided by a broader foreign policy of sovereignty, solidarity, and coherence.

First of all, we must maintain the sovereignty to decide the development path at the speed that we feel comfortable with. China's negotiating positions and tactics are often more low-key than the bold moves it actually takes.

Second, solidarity with poor countries. China is far more sensitive than all other major developing countries and most developed countries to the needs of those countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Finally, ensure consistency in other countries setting sufficiently ambitious goals. While China is slowly breaking away from the shackles of the US position, it also requires developed countries to be more active.

While the Doha meeting was unable to formulate the bold measures required to tackle the climate crisis, it remains important to build momentum for a comprehensive agreement in 2015. China has a vital role to play in this and can ensure that this meeting will not just sit still on the Durban accord. China has invested heavily, both financially and politically, to limit domestic climate risks while maintaining the drive toward a low-carbon economy. (Liz Gallagher, senior policy advisor at E3G.)