China plays critical role in global environment & climate cooperation
Zhu Xufeng

Editor's note: Zhu Xufeng is a professor and executive dean of the School of Public Policy and Management and executive director of Institute for Sustainable Development Goals at Tsinghua University. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.

The 14th BRICS Summit will be held on June 23 in Beijing, where China will pledge to implement the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Agenda and continue to promote the Global Development Initiative in collaboration with other BRICS countries as well as international and regional communities around the world. 

The comprehensive effort covers environmental governance, resource utilization, economic and structural optimization, and sustainable infrastructure construction, as well as the pursuit of equality and people's health and social well-being. The initiative emphasizes a reasonable balance among economic development, environmental protection, and social equity and well-being.

This summit reminds me that in 2009, just before the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, I published a short piece in Nature magazine, calling on developed countries to take the lead in collaborating with developing countries to tackle global environmental deterioration and climate change. 

During that period, many carbon-emission reduction technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, were still at an experimental stage, with the United States, Germany and Japan leading the research and development. At the same time, many new power plants would be constructed in developing nations, offering opportunities for cooperative projects with developed countries to apply new technologies, if agreements could be reached on clean-energy and emissions reduction programs. 

Therefore, I argued that such win-win collaborations on technical projects would increase the chances of successful implementation of practical approaches in addressing climate change.

However, developed countries have not been doing well in leading the global environmental and climate actions because of domestic political turmoil and regional geopolitical conflicts. For example, the United States officially withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement during the Trump administration in 2020. Germany reactivated coal power plants amid gas supply shortages during the 2022 Russian-Ukraine conflict. Many developed nations have been trying to rebuild their economies after the COVID-19 pandemic by stimulating investment and infrastructure construction projects without considering energy conservation and emission reductions.

To the contrary, China has been playing a more critical role in the global environmental and climate collaboration effort than ever before in promoting global green development and address climate change. On September 22, 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at the UN General Assembly that "China will increase its national ownership contribution and adopt stronger policies and measures to achieve a peak in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and strive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060."

This ambitious and important announcement demonstrates China's firm will to advance the green development and its clear attitude toward making new contributions to the global response to climate change.

Moreover, President Xi emphasized at the Boao Forum for Asia's annual meeting in April 2021 that China will build a closer partnership for green development and strengthen cooperation in green infrastructure, green energy, and green finance. In September 2021, President Xi further announced at the UN General Assembly that China will strongly support green and low-carbon energy development in developing countries and will not build new offshore coal-fired power projects. 

This pledge is another key step after China made a carbon peak and carbon neutral declaration, committed to the "14th Five-year Plan" period, moved to strictly control coal-fired power projects and coal consumption growth. The effort came after the launch of the National Carbon Emission Trading Market in July 2021.

As we can see, China is focusing on self-determination and regional linkages to accelerate the creation of a new type of international relations with win-win cooperation as its core. In line with profound changes in the "unprecedentedly close interaction in the international community," the Chinese government has taken on the initiative to shoulder its international responsibilities and actively participate in international affairs. 

Beijing pays attention to the global environmental and climate governance and tries to enhance international cooperation in which China and other countries stand side by side and help one another. China also adheres to and practices multilateralism, works with other countries to meet the challenges in the field of climate and environment, and protect our beautiful blue planet.

In a word, the global governance vision of "working together with other countries and international organizations to promote global ecological environment governance" is further put forward. It injects new impetus into the multipolar development of the global environmental governance pattern and provides a good lesson for developing countries.

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