Whether in response to climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic or promoting a recovery of the global economy, multilateralism is a prerequisite. Addressing these challenges is a nonstarter if all countries have their own calculations based purely on their own interests.
Unilateralism is the reason why there has been so much foot-dragging in global endeavors to effectively cut greenhouse emissions and contain the global temperature rise and for the failure to keep the COVID-19 pandemic globally at bay.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Developed countries in particular should shoulder their due responsibilities for their historical greenhouse gas emissions. Not only doing whatever they can to cut their own emissions but also helping developing countries to achieve their goals. Their aid in both funds and technologies is essential for substantial progress in containing climate change.
Shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy and reducing consumption of energy through technology upgrading will not only make development more sustainable but also further the quality of economic growth.
China’s development trajectory sets a good example for this green transition.
Its carbon intensity in 2020 was 18.8 percent lower than that in 2015, a better result than the target set in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20). The figure was also 48.4 percent less than that in 2005, which means that the country has more than fulfilled its commitment to the international community — to achieve a 40-45 percent reduction in carbon intensity from the 2005 level by 2020. The drop in carbon intensity translates to a total reduction of about 5.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 to 2020.
This means China has largely reversed the rapid growth of its carbon dioxide emissions.
At the same time, its economy has achieved leapfrog development. Its GDP in 2020 was more than four times bigger than in 2005. It has lifted nearly 100 million rural poor people out of poverty during this period, and succeeded in realizing the goal of eliminating absolute poverty.
So when President Xi Jinping put forward three suggestions in a written statement for the World Leaders Summit of the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change — which can be summarized as upholding multilateralism, focusing on concrete actions and accelerating the green transition — it was based on China’s successful practice and what it has achieved.
To build on these achievements, the country has a clearly defined timetable, road map and blueprint to realize its carbon peak and carbon neutrality goals. Guided by the vision of a community of life for man and nature, the country will take stronger actions to pursue a green and low-carbon path to development.
If all countries shelve their differences and uphold multilateralism and take concrete actions to advance the green transition, there may yet be hope that humanity can overcome the climate challenge. Editorial, China Daily