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China's climate leadership well demonstrated: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-12-02 20:42

Two people pose with the U.N. climate change conference (COP25) logo, at the IFEMA conventions center, in Madrid, Spain, December 2, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

In yet another warning of the increasingly dire climate change situation the world now is facing, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday that there is a danger global warming could pass the "point of no return".

"The point of no return is no longer over the horizon," Guterres told reporters in Madrid, the Spanish capital. "It is in sight and hurtling toward us."

He was speaking on Monday prior to the start of a two-week international climate conference, where delegates from nearly 200 countries are scheduled to finalize the rules governing the 2015 Paris climate accord, including how to create functioning international emissions trading systems, and compensate poor countries for losses they suffer from rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.

Far from being an alarmist, Guterres was just telling it like it is. After countries agreed in Paris in 2015 to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century compared with the pre-industrial era, average temperatures have increased by about 1 C. Scientists believe that increase has been behind the increasing number of extreme weather events, such as the intense heat wave across the world during the past summer as well as the melting polar ice.

Yet despite that, "the world's largest emitters are not pulling their weight," as Guterres pointed out. The US administration has even withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement, totally shirking its global responsibility as one of the largest greenhouse emitters. As a result, the use of fossil fuels continues to increase, the rise of the share of renewable resources is much lower than what is needed, and greenhouse emissions are increasing rather than decreasing, according to researchers.

As the country with the world's largest population, China has sought to play an exemplary role in exploring ways to achieve a low-carbon future. As Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme said in a recent interview, the country "has had tremendous success in demonstrating climate leadership in recent years", through large investments in clean energy and technologies and electric mobility.

Actually, no other country has come close to matching what China has achieved in transitioning to a low-carbon economy. It has pledged to reduce the carbon intensity of its GDP by 60–65 percent below the 2005 levels by 2030, and in 2017 alone, it invested $127 billion in renewable energy — almost half the global total and dwarfing the US commitment of $41 billion.

All this has put China well on track to achieve the climate targets it set for the Paris Agreement and made it a key promoter of multilateral action on climate change.

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