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Xi looks to greener growth across globe
2021-12-24 15:42:14

A wind power plant in Dingxi, Gansu province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Balance of ecology, economy underscored amid impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Editor's note: China Daily presents a series of reports illustrating how the Global Development Initiative, first proposed by President Xi Jinping, will help countries around the world to shore up robust, green and more balanced growth amid unprecedented challenges. This is the sixth installment of the series.

Stephen Bainous Kargbo, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization's representative to China, could not conceal his excitement for China's eco-friendly, green development philosophy when he recalled a visit this year to the International Hydrogen Energy Center, a partner of his organization.

Kargbo said he "was amazed" to know that Chinese researchers have remarkably lowered the cost of hydrogen fuel technology, and 850 hydrogen-fueled vehicles developed there will be used during the upcoming Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

What he saw is part of the increasingly influential, evolving Chinese concept that seeks to tackle environmental issues and advance growth at the same time.

President Xi Jinping summarized this concept as "staying committed to harmony between man and nature" when he unveiled the China-led Global Development Initiative in September.

In his remarks in recent years, Xi has called on countries to accelerate transition to a green and low-carbon economy, "improve global environmental governance, actively respond to climate change and create a community of life for man and nature".

He also urged developed, high-income countries to shoulder their responsibility in cutting carbon emissions and helping poorer nations.

To better coordinate ecological buildup with economic growth, Xi advised nations to "translate ecological strengths into development strengths, and bring out the great benefit that green mountains and clear waters can offer".

The evolving Chinese proposals constitute a set of solutions for dealing with the world's mounting ecological and biodiversity issues, which have been complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent uncertainties, according to scholars and officials of international organizations.

"The pandemic has brought extra challenges to global environment governance and ecological preservation," said Tu Ruihe, head of the United Nations Environment Programme's China office.

"When the economy is bullish, environmental protection could be high on the agenda, but when economic growth loses steam, environment-related topics are often pulled off the table," he said.

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the funding pledged via the Paris Agreement on climate to support developing countries in tackling climate change had already seen sluggish fundraising progress, and thus there was a remarkable gap in funds, Tu said.

"To make things worse, the pandemic leads to shrinking political will in dealing with climate change," Tu added.

In terms of green development and low-carbon economy, Tu said pioneering countries should help those lagging behind, and "there is still reluctance to share and transfer advanced green technologies".

Among the latest major commitments to global green development, President Xi announced in September that the country "will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad".

This vow followed Xi's pledge last year that China will strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

Wang Yao, director-general of the International Institute of Green Finance at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, said, "Although many low-income countries have been keen to improve their infrastructure and industries, massive investment in high-polluting, high-emission projects may pose a great threat to their already vulnerable ecology and natural environment."

To shore up green development, these countries need more funding from overseas investors, localized measures to sustain growth and a balanced approach to reduce their risky reliance on fossil fuels, she said.

Xi's emphasis on greener global growth "manifests the country's great sense of duty and exemplary role in advancing global climate governance and green, low-carbon development", she added.

China has been a pioneer and is at the vanguard in promoting green finance at the national level, and its concepts and practices in this field "could benefit peer developing countries", Wang said.

Aerial photo taken on June 7, 2021 shows wild Asian elephants in Jinning district of Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Shared progress

At the Leaders' Summit of the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity on Oct 12, President Xi stressed the need to "step up green international cooperation and share the fruits of green development among all countries".

Also at various global venues, Xi has reiterated Beijing's pledge that "China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy".

Speaking to member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Nov 22 via video link, Xi said China is willing to discuss the establishment of a China-ASEAN clean energy cooperation center, enhance technology sharing in renewable energies and launch the Action Plan on China-ASEAN Green Agriculture.

In a speech to African nations on Nov 29, Xi announced that "China will undertake 10 green development, environmental protection and climate action projects for Africa", support the development of the Africa-led Great Green Wall initiative and build centers of excellence on low-carbon development and climate change adaptation in Africa.

Kargbo, the UNIDO China representative, said China is "willing to share their experience, to share their technology, to share their experiences with others. It's not holding you back.

"Developing countries are not the biggest polluters, but they are the biggest losers. So it is very urgent for the rest of the world to support developing countries to go on a trajectory of carbon neutral development," he added.

Tu, the head of UNEP's China office, said China's success in eradicating absolute poverty contributes a lot to environmental preservation because "poverty is closely linked to low-end, high-emission production that does great harm to the natural environment".

"China's solving its own problems is in itself a major contribution to the world because of its remarkable size of population and economy," he added.

On building a green Belt and Road, Beijing has vowed to align with international rules and standards, carry out more high-quality projects and ensure that the projects are economically and environmentally sustainable.

Wang, the Central University of Finance and Economics scholar, noted that while the world is faced with huge infrastructure gaps, China has become a major funding source for infrastructure projects in other developing countries.

"Energy and transportation are key areas of China's funding related to the BRI. Renewable energy has become a priority area for the country's overseas energy investment since last year," she said.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Dec 17 that China welcomes "the participation of more countries in the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Green Development to pursue deeper cooperation on green infrastructure, green energy, green investment and green finance".

Source:China Daily

 
 
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