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Nation helps islands tackle climate challenges

By XU WEI and ZHAO RUIXUE | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-07-04 08:03

China has stepped up efforts to help Pacific island nations bolster their resilience to climate change, according to analysts and observers.

These nations are facing rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather conditions.

In April, China and Pacific island nations jointly launched a climate action cooperation center in Liaocheng, Shandong province, as they boosted their attempts to respond to climate change.

Xie Feng, vice-minister of foreign affairs, said at the launch ceremony for the center that Beijing understands the specific challenges faced by these nations in responding to climate change. He added that the center was launched to promote bilateral cooperation in projects, share experience, practice low-carbon development, and jointly respond to climate challenges.

Many Pacific island countries have said the response to climate change is their top priority, highlighting the issue as the single greatest threat facing the region.

Henry Puna, secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum, said during a meeting with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi that action to keep global warming below 1.5 C is vital for the future prosperity and well-being of the region.

"We welcome China's climate change commitments as we look ahead to the COP 27(climate conference) in Egypt and call on all our international partners to submit enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions in line with the 1.5 degrees pathway and net zero emissions by 2050," he said. Nationally Determined Contributions are targets, measures and policies for reducing a country's greenhouse gas emissions and addressing its climate impacts.

Tapusalaia Toomata, the Samoan ambassador to China, said Pacific island countries are extremely vulnerable to climate change "because there is nowhere to go as the sea rises, nowhere to hide when extreme cyclones strike with increased frequency, and nowhere to grow crops when protracted droughts occur".

He said China's climate change strategy would provide a good platform for cooperation and assistance for these countries to tackle this issue and advance the region's initiatives.

"China has the green energy solutions that Pacific island countries can benefit from," Toomata said. "China's carbon peak and net zero emissions goals will also assist these countries to formulate and implement their short- and long-term strategies on climate change and will also help them phase out reliance on fossil fuel."

He added that training on climate change and the provision of related environmental data will be one of the main goals for the China-Pacific Island Countries Climate Action Cooperation Center to help boost capacity-building and expertise.

Toomata also highlighted the Shandong center's significance in helping Pacific islanders integrate their environmental planning and economic growth as they steer their fragile economies into the future in a sustainable manner.

Liang Jiarui, a senior researcher at the center, said China, as a good partner of Pacific island countries, has the responsibility to help these nations better respond to climate change.

He listed a series of aid measures China has provided to these countries, including offering training sessions on climate change for officials and scholars, providing related material, developing low-carbon pilot zones, and enhancing cooperation on renewable energy.

China has organized a fund of 1.2 billion yuan ($179 million) for South-South cooperation on climate change and signed 42 cooperation agreements on climate actions with 37 developing nations, including Samoa and Tonga, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

Beijing also signed a cooperation agreement on climate action with the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in April, and last month hosted an online training session on climate action for more than 40 professionals from the South Pacific.

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