China has been actively tackling climate change: envoy

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A Chinese envoy on Friday told the United Nations Security Council that China has been actively tackling climate change, while stressing that all countries should implement the obligations under the Paris Agreement.

"China has been actively tackling climate change and implementing the Paris Agreement while fighting COVID-19 and promoting economic recovery," Zhang Jun, permanent representative of China to the United Nations, told the Council's ministerial-level open debate on "climate and security" in open videoconference format.

"We pursue green development, put people first, and make every effort to address environmental issues to meet our people's aspiration for a better life. China earnestly implements the basic state policy of resource conservation and environmental protection, and promote ecological progress to build a beautiful China," said the ambassador.

On the achievements that China has scored in climate action, Zhang said that China's carbon dioxide emission in 2018 was 45.8 percent lower than 2005, meeting the emission reduction target two years ahead of schedule. In 2018, the share of non-fossil fuels in China's total energy consumption reached 14.3 percent. A quarter of the world's newly afforested area since 2000 is in China. The Chinese people now enjoy more blue skies thanks to the improvement of air quality.

"We are vigorously promoting international climate cooperation, advancing the development of a green Silk Road, helping relevant countries develop renewable energy projects such as hydro power, wind power and photovoltaics to achieve energy transition and green development, setting an example for the international community," the ambassador added.

Speaking of the obligations of flighting climate change, Zhang said that all countries should firmly support multilateralism instead of putting oneself first, implement the obligations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement, especially the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" and respective capabilities, and build a fair, equitable and win-win global climate governance system.

"Climate change is, in essence, a development issue, rather than a security issue. There is no direct linkage between the two. Solution of climate change rests on sustainable development," the envoy said.

He urged the international community to respect the differences of countries, especially developing countries, and help them cope with the difficulties.

The Secretariat of the UNFCCC, UN development system and resident coordinators should, in accordance with their mandates, mobilize efforts of all sides to provide targeted support for climate change response and economic and social development, he said.

"The Security Council, as the body handling international peace and security issues, should act in line with the mandates of relevant resolutions, analyze security challenges and security implications of climate change for countries concerned, and discuss and handle relevant issues on a country-specific basis," the ambassador added.

Talking about the relations between nature and the human being, Zhang said that both "share a community of life."

"What hurts nature hurts humans. The outbreak of COVID-19 reminds us again that no country or individual is immune to global challenges, and solidarity and cooperation is needed most. Climate change endangers the future of humankind and requires joint efforts of us all," said the ambassador.

Germany, which is the council president this month, co-sponsored the meeting with nine other Council members - Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Niger, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia, Britain, and Vietnam.

Climate-security matters remain controversial in the council. China, Russia and the United States have strong reservations about the organ's engagement on such matters. China and Russia have expressed concern that council involvement in this area encroaches on the prerogatives of other UN entities, which they maintain are better equipped to handle this issue. Russia also believes that climate change is fundamentally a sustainable development issue with only tangential links to international peace and security, according to the Security Council Report (SCR), whose mission is to advance the transparency and effectiveness of the Security Council. 

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