Effective multilateral cooperation is the key to tackle climate change
Updated 11:44, 12-Jul-2021
George A. Papandreou

Editor's note: Decision Makers is a global platform for decision-makers to share their insights on events shaping today's world. George A. Papandreou is former Prime Minister of Greece and President of the Socialist International. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has repeatedly underlined that we need a strong global partnership to address the climate emergency.

More than ten years from now, the Socialist International (SI) has developed ideas on how we need a new development framework that would limit inequalities and, at the same time would address climate change as well as other environmental challenges. Early on, we realized that if greenhouse gas emissions are not radically reduced, the world will descend into catastrophic climate disruption, threatening the delicate balance that makes human life on this planet possible.

We have strongly voiced our concerns about the inevitable consequences of climate change on the poorest and most vulnerable people of this world. The increasingly extreme and volatile weather patterns, drought, desertification and rising sea levels have hit the poorest who are suffering the most from these changes. This can be best described as climate injustice or climate apartheid.

All countries have a huge responsibility for mitigation in order to lower global emissions per capita. Of course, the richer nations must bear the heaviest burden and take into account the differences between the developed and the developing world.

In the above spirit, the SI launched its Commission for a Sustainable World Society as well as a strategic dialogue with the Communist Party of China (CPC) on this matter. In our discussions, we have agreed that addressing climate change is not simply a problem to be eradicated, but also an opportunity for sustainable economic growth.

It can become a driving force for modernization with the potential to benefit the developing world as much as the developed along the lines of the UN SDGs (sustainable development goals).

Wind power generators at the Pinghai Bay in Putian, southeast China's Fujian Province. /Xinhua

Wind power generators at the Pinghai Bay in Putian, southeast China's Fujian Province. /Xinhua

The current pandemic has shown how important the harmony between Man and Nature is. The recent pandemic has shown us in the cruelest way, how there is a link between environment, nutrition, animal welfare and zoonotic diseases. We have become aware that policies for addressing climate change must go hand in hand with policies aiming to protect biodiversity.

For this reason, there is more and more discussion concerning the One Health principle, a holistic approach, that links our health with the health of our ecosystems. This approach must be adopted, and we will need to redesign our health policies and public health systems in many ways.

As President Xi Jinping mentioned in his April speech at the Leaders Summit on Climate, "Failure to respect nature or follow its laws will only invite its revenge. A systemic spoil of nature will take away the foundation of human survival and development, and will leave us human beings like a river without a source and a tree without its roots."

Of course, we cannot implement environmentally friendly policies or make great transitions in our economies without convincing our citizens, without the active involvement of the society as a whole. And in this, political parties have a very crucial responsibility.

As 2021 is the year of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC, it is clear how the party's long-term planning and recommendations have contributed to China's efforts for addressing climate change and the subsequent environmental questions.



In this anniversary year, it will be certainly remembered how reform and people-oriented policies promoted by the CPC have transformed China, lifting 740 million people out of poverty in the last 40 years, reducing the poverty headcount ratio by 94.4 percentage points.  

As President Xi mentioned in his historic speech at the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up, the practice of reform and opening-up has shown that openness brings progress, while seclusion leads to backwardness.

China's commitment to openness and multilateralism is of key importance not only for China's prosperity but also for tackling effectively common global challenges. Common challenges ask for common solutions. Shared goals and embracing diversity is the path.

The recent G7 Leaders Summit in Cornwall failed to produce specific plans for new climate funding. At the same time, further tensions over climate finance threaten to derail the COP26 summit, as preliminary UN deliberations have led to limited results. Now is the time to reverse this course, now is the time to work together and deliver an inclusive and ambitious COP26. Let's turn this crisis into an opportunity, an opportunity to fight together against climate change.

As President of the SI, I sincerely believe in the importance of dialogue as a key factor for the deepening of relations among countries and among people; for the promotion of key shared goals for making the world more balanced and prosperous. Peaceful dialogue is key. Dialogue again is a Greek word which means "through logic, reason and discussion." This is what is needed today and international politics and exchanges can contribute constructively to that direction. Trust is also key. Building trust through the strengthening of mutual bonds. 

The climate crisis and the recent pandemic are sending us a clear message which we must heed. We may be of different nations, ethnicities and races, but we are all human beings with a common fate. These global challenges can be resolved only if we work in solidarity, build a global consciousness of our common humanity. And we need to do so before it's too late! And for reaching this goal China and the CPC have a crucial role to play.

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