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China Daily Global / 2021-05 / 21 / Page013

Shared stance, common principles

By WU CHUANHUA and LING HE | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-05-21 00:00

China and Africa are working together to combat climate change and help build a community of life for man and nature

When addressing the Leaders' Summit on Climate via video link from Beijing in April, President Xi Jinping called for international efforts to address climate challenges, and proposed the concept of building "a community of life for man and nature" for the first time. African leaders including President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and African Union Chairman Felix Tshisekedi and President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa also attended the summit, calling on developed countries to take more responsibility in addressing climate change and deliver on climate funding promises.

Both China and Africa attach great significance to climate change. With its vast territory, complex climate and fragile ecological systems, China's task of adapting itself to climate change is arduous. While Africa is the region most exposed to the adverse effects of climate change and its population is highly vulnerable to climate impacts despite contributing the least to global warming (responsible for a meager 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions).

Building an ecological civilization has been written into China's Constitution as a national development strategy. And China aims to have carbon dioxide emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

Africa is also an active participant in the global fight against climate change. The African Union Agenda 2063 has made capacity enhancement for coping with climate change and realizing sustainable development important goals. African countries have actively participated in international climate negotiations, carried out discussions about climate change at the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment on a regular basis and have reached a consensus on climate change, adopting a unified stance on the global level. In response to climate change, African countries including Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Gabon have formulated policies at the national level or codes of conduct, combining climate ambition and action with poverty reduction and sustainable development goals.

When it comes to climate change, developed countries should assume the main responsibility for addressing climate change, as they are responsible for most of the historical greenhouse gas emissions. Both China and Africa believe that the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" is the cornerstone of global climate governance. They have been actively shouldering responsibilities commensurate to their respective development stages and conditions, and are combining mitigation and adaptation measures with their development targets.

Both China and Africa uphold multilateralism and emphasizing international cooperation in the global fight against climate change. The sudden onslaught of the novel coronavirus outbreak has intensified developing countries' pressure in coping with the effects of climate change. Both China and Africa hope that developed countries shoulder their due responsibilities in addressing climate change, including supporting developing countries in financing, technology and capacity building, helping them improve the framework of carbon trading and optimize the clean development mechanism, so as to accelerate developing nations' transition toward green and low-carbon development.

China is committed to upholding multilateralism and the UN-centered international system, abiding by the goals and principles stipulated in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, and promoting the joint building of a fair global climate governance system.

With regard to Africa, almost all African countries have acceded to and ratified the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, addressing climate change with concrete actions under the framework of international cooperation. African countries have carried out climate research programs of all sorts in collaboration with international organizations such as the World Meteorological Organization through such platforms as the African Climate Policy Centre.

Jointly coping with climate change is one of the key cooperation areas of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. President Xi made the announcement in a keynote speech delivered at the opening ceremony of the 2018 FOCAC Summit in Beijing that China will implement eight major initiatives with African countries in the next three years and beyond, covering fields such as industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, and green development. President Xi also said China will undertake 50 aid projects on green development, and ecological and environmental protection, with a focus on climate change, ocean, desertification prevention and control, and wildlife protection.

China has signed climate cooperation agreements with many African countries, provided training courses on weather technology for officials from African countries, donated a large amount of environmental protection equipment to African countries such as solar photovoltaic generators, launched remote sensing weather satellites for African countries, and carried out climate change-related research programs in collaboration with African countries. The China-Africa Environment Cooperation Center was launched in Beijing at the end of 2020, serving as a new platform for the two sides to strengthen dialogue and cooperation on climate change. The center will implement such flagship projects as the "China-Africa green envoy plan "and "China-Africa green innovation plan", which will significantly boost bilateral cooperation on dealing with climate change and other environmental ills.

Moreover, China and Africa have been actively coping with climate change with concrete actions in the joint construction of a green Belt and Road. China has incorporated the concept of green development into the cooperative programs especially those in infrastructure and telecommunication. For instance, Djibouti Port, located in the Horn of Africa, is an important starting point of the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. Chinese companies have overcome numerous difficulties and built an electrified railway powered by clean energy, which has not only improved the port's freight transport infrastructure and boosted local economic growth, but also enhanced energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions. While the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway that China helped build in Kenya has taken into full consideration the issues of animal migration and biodiversity protection, building nine passageways for large animals.

There are bright prospects for China and Africa to cooperate in a wide range of areas in the fight against climate change. They have only just begun.





Wu Chuanhua is an associate research fellow with the China-Africa Institute. Ling He is a research assistant of the China-Africa Institute. The authors contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.

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