China can inspire the world to tackle the climate crisis: UN Envoy

More global action is needed to prevent global warming, and China can help inspire other countries to set an ambitious climate goal, a senior UN official said on Thursday.  

"We hope China will come up with an incremental nationally determined commitment (NDC) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions inspiring other countries to take similar action," Luis Alfonso de Alba, special envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit, said while addressing the media.

In 2016, during climate negotiations in Paris, countries agreed to reduce their emissions under NDC. China expanded the renewable energy sector that has curbed the release of heat-trapping gases, and at the same time, the country has ensured its economic growth is an example for other countries to follow, de Alba said.

According to the climate change agreement, global carbon emissions have to be curtailed by nearly 45 percent by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. China has already reached the 2020 carbon emission target, around three years ahead of schedule.

"But a large number of countries are still lagging in fulfilling their targets. At this rate global temperature would rise by three degree Celsius, failing the Paris agreement of capping it at 1.5 degrees Celsius," he maintained. 

Scheduled to be held in New York on September 23, the Climate Action Summit will focus on building a consensus among stakeholders to take decisive action against climate change. It will bring together governments, the private sector, civil society, local authorities, and other international organizations to find a solution to deal with the climate crisis.

"We would also like China to encourage green investment throughout the Belt and Road Initiative and not build coal-fired power plants," he said.

Focus on air pollution

Apart from action on achieving the climate goals, the UN would seek commitment from the governments to ensure air quality standards.

A clean air initiative has been jointly announced by the UN, WHO and Climate and Clean Air Coalition to deal with the issue. "The climate crisis and the air pollution crisis are driven by the same factors and must be tackled by joint actions," de Alba added.

Every year, air pollution leads to seven million premature deaths, of which 60,000 are children. Poor air quality also cost the global economy around 5.11 trillion U.S. dollars. The initiative is being developed as part of the social and political drivers action area of the climate summit.