News / World

Brian Sokutu
Senior Print Journalist
3 minute read
5 Nov 2021
1:23 pm

COP26: China wants to speed up its green-energy transition

Brian Sokutu

China's president stressed that when it came to global challenges, such as climate change, multilateralism was the right prescription.

China's President Xi Jinping speaking at the media centre of the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) in Kunming, in China's southwestern Yunnan province on 12 October 2021. Picture: AFP

As Chinese President Xi Jinping this week sent a strong message to world leaders at COP26 about the importance of upholding multilateralism consensus when it came to climate change, a leading South African academic said Xi was being consistent.

In a message to the United Nations (UN) COP26 World Leaders Summit in Glasgow, the Chinese president stressed that when it came to global challenges, such as climate change, multilateralism was the right prescription.

In a written statement to the COP26, Xi said: “As we speak, the adverse impacts of climate change have become increasingly evident, presenting a growing urgency for global action.

“How to respond to climate change and revive the world economy, are challenges of our times that we must meet.

“Firstly, we need to uphold multilateral consensus.

“When it comes to global challenges such as climate change, multilateralism is the right prescription.

“The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement provide the fundamental legal basis for international cooperation on climate.

“Parties need to build on existing consensus, increase mutual trust, step up cooperation and work together to deliver a successful COP26 in Glasgow.”

He called for a focus on concrete actions.

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“Visions will come true only when we act on them.

“Parties need to honour their commitments, set realistic targets, visions and do their best – according to national conditions to deliver their climate action measures.

“Developed countries should not only do more themselves, but should also provide support to help developing countries do better.

“We need to accelerate the green transition.

“It is important to harness innovations in science and technology to transform and upgrade our energy and resources sectors as well as the industrial structure and consumption pattern, promote a greener economy and society, and explore a new pathway forward that coordinates development with conservation,” said Xi.

Guided by “the vision of a community of life for man and nature”, Xi said China would continue to prioritise ecological conservation and pursue a green and low-carbon path to development.

“We will foster a green, low-carbon and circular economic system at a faster pace, press ahead with industrial structure adjustment, and rein in the irrational development of energy-intensive and high-emissions projects.

“We will speed up the transition to green and low-carbon energy, vigorously develop renewable energy, and plan and build large wind and photovoltaic power stations.

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Multilateralism key for climate change consensus

Commenting on Xi’s position on climate change, University of Johannesburg politics professor Siphamandla Zondi said multilateralism was key in leaders reaching a consensus on climate change.

“The Chinese position is consistent with that of the large majority of countries, that the implementation of the Paris Agreement must be done in a multilateral and inclusive manner.

“It is a position against moves to take unilateral and exclusive measures outside the collective forums.

“Multilateralism is a bulwark against irresponsible use of power by the powerful, a key objective for developing countries,” Zondi said.  

Asked about COP26 achieving a major breakthrough, Zondi said: “There are no chances of a major breakthrough in negotiations, given hardened positions between developed and developing countries.

“Developed countries have still not met their obligations still.

“It is not a problem of means, but one of will.

“They have raised much more capital to respond to Covid impacts on their economies than towards climate change responses.

“There is generally very slow action both on mitigation of carbon emissions and financing climate change adaptation.”

brians@citizen.co.za