Canada and China’s Enduring Cooperating on Climate Change
Ambassador Cong Peiwu Publishes a Signed Article on The Hill Times
5 October 2020
When I worked in the Chinese Embassy in Canada 20 years ago, I did not expect that 20 years later, the temperature in Ottawa could exceed 30 degrees Celsius as early as late May. In fact, on May 27, the temperature peaked at 34.8 degrees, setting a record for the hottest May 27 in Ottawa history. Climate change is exerting increasing impact on people’s lives. According to a report released by the United Nations (UN) in September, the average global temperature for 2016-2020 is expected to be the warmest on record, about 1.1 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Recently, Canadian media reported that the last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has collapsed. Besides, extreme weather and catastrophic events occur frequently around the world, and there are reports that the recent wildfires in the western US are also related to climate change. Some scientists believe the world will face more extreme weather and a higher risk of natural disasters as global warming continues.
During my one-year stay here, I found that climate change has drawn the attention of most Canadian people. It is said in 2013, 54 percent of the Canadian people saw climate change as the greatest threat to their country. By 2020, this figure has risen to 67 percent. The Canadian government has identified climate change as the defining challenges of our time and has introduced a series of measures to deal with it.
China, like Canada, attaches great importance to climate change. At the General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 22, Chinese President Xi Jinping in his speech announced that China will scale up its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions by adopting more vigorous policies and measures. China aims to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. As the largest developing country in the world, China faces an arduous task of industrial transformation and upgrading as well as green and low-carbon development, which requires strenuous efforts. However, China acts in good faith. We have already attained 2020 climate action targets ahead of schedule. By the end of 2019, China has reduced carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 48.1 percent over 2005, equivalent to more than 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions reduction. China has already exceeded the 2030 target for forest carbon sinks, and has contributed 25 percent to the increased afforestation areas worldwide since 2000. Moreover, China’s investment in renewable energy is larger than any other country. We have 30 percent of world’s installed capacity of renewable energy and the new energy vehicle stock is more than half the world’s total.
With a keen sense of responsibility for the whole mankind, China actively promotes the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. To achieve this, it is important to build an ecological civilization and a beautiful planet. China has signed agreements and initiatives on addressing climate change with the European Union, France, Germany and other countries, and over 30 Memorandums of Understanding on climate change South-South cooperation with other developing countries. China is a staunch advocate of multilateralism and has always been an active participant and facilitator of the multilateral process of biodiversity. The 15th Conference of the Parties, or COP15, to the Convention on Biological Diversity, will be convened in Kunming next year. As the host, China is making good preparations for it. Chinese President Xi Jinping recently said that China will share with the world China’s experience of advancing biodiversity governance and ecological progress.
With a long history of cooperation on climate change and the environment, in recent years, China and Canada have achieved positive cooperation results especially in areas such as biodiversity, marine litter and plastics, and clean growth. Both China and Canada have been committed to promoting and implementing the Paris Agreement. Despite the United State’s withdrawal from the Agreement, China and Canada have not stopped our cooperation on climate change. The Ministerial-level Dialogues on climate change have been held between China and Canada, with the MOU signed between the environmental ministries of the two countries. Furthermore, China, Canada, and the EU have also co-hosted the Ministerial meeting on Climate Action, which has played a positive role in promoting the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
We’re facing profound changes never seen in a century. The sudden attack of COVID-19 is a grave test for the entire world. COVID-19 will not be the last crisis to confront humanity, so we must join hands and be prepared to meet even more global challenges. Only together can we effectively address climate change, marine pollution, biological conservation, and other global environmental issues. China is willing to strengthen cooperation with Canada and other countries to promote green development and a global ecological civilization.