Climate Cooperation: a necessity on a common ground -Ambassador Yi Xianliang's article on Aftenposten
2021-09-16 21:16

Norway has always been a pioneer in the fields of climate, environment and clean energy. During my first trip to Norway in 1993, I visited the Nansen Institute and related research institutions. The forward-looking research of Norwegian scientists impressed me deeply. It nurtured a new generation of policy makers and academic researchers with holistic thinking on climate change, making Norway an attractive partner in this field and giving incentives to a lasting China-Norway cooperation on climate change.

This summer, Europe and China experienced some of the worst floods. At the same time, hurricanes and wildfires swept across the US, and many countries recorded extreme temperatures. The earth is warning mankind in an increasingly fierce manner. It is time to take effective actions other than quarrels on climate change.

In fact, consensus on climate change has long been reached. 30 years ago, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted. Since then, implementation instruments such as the "Kyoto Protocol" "Copenhagen Accord" and the "Paris Agreement" have been agreed. However, it is always easier said than done. According to IPCC estimates, the expected global temperature rise of 1.5°C is forecast to arrive 10 years earlier and the living environment of mankind will deteriorate further.

Way out? International cooperation. It is reassuring to see that China and Norway, though thousands of miles apart, are both actively involved in fighting climate change based on common values and goals in this regard.

Both countries have pledged to achieve the emission reduction targets stipulated in the Paris Accord. Chinese President Xi Jinping stated that China is willing to shoulder international responsibilities commensurate with it's development level, increase national independent contributions, strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Norway has set goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2030 and becoming a low-emission society by 2050, and adopted measures such as the carbon emission tax to limit the combustion vehicles and the consumption of fossil energy.

Frankly speaking, the above policies and measures would result in higher costs and strain the fiscal situation in the short run, which seems contrary to the needs of economic development, especially in a time of global pandemic. Nevertheless, China and Norway still made difficult but correct choices. I believe they root in the shared common value: there is only one earth; it is our generation's responsibility to secure the right of future generations to survive.

Energy conservation and emission reduction are no easy tasks. The transformation requires profound changes in whole society. For instance, to make space for offshore wind farm, we need to carry out dedicate fishery management; to stipulate development and investment of carbon capture and storage, a sufficient tax scheme should be in place; to form a virtuous cycle of carbon emissions, we need to integrate social, political, financial means to facilitate the participation of the general public. In July 2021, China officially launched the national emissions trading scheme (ETS), which is on track to become the world's largest carbon market. In the "2021-2030 Climate Action Plan", Norway proposed to further strengthen the carbon tax scheme, increase the cost of carbon emissions, and accelerate the green transformation. On global stage, China has issued the "Green development guidelines for overseas investment and cooperation", encouraging companies to integrate green concept into overseas operation. Norway has played a leading role in providing assistance to combat climate change, especially for developing nations. These measures and actions all demonstrate the determination of the two countries in tackling climate change, because we uphold the common goal: to achieve green transformation through energy conservation and emission reduction, and eventually form a new development model.

While China and Norway are making our own efforts to address climate change, we have forged a series of cooperation in this area too. More than 30 joint research projects have been carried out and a wide range of industrial cooperation has been up and running. In China, from the sewage treatment system in southwest inland to the coastal wind farms in the east, China-Norway cooperation is exerting tangible emission reduction effects. New areas of cooperation, which previously non-exist, has flourished. Green transportation, CCS, ocean and maritime issues could offer greater opportunities for the two sides, and the perspective of cooperation in climate adaptation, biodiversity are also promising.

Time is running out. To combat climate change, the world needs to boost cooperation and more sustained efforts. In October this year, the Biodiversity Conference (COP15) and the UN Global Sustainable Transport Conference will be held in Kunming and Beijing respectively. In November, climate change summit (COP26) will be held in Glasgow, UK. We should seize the opportunities extended by these platforms to reach consensus, expand cooperation and most importantly, initiate actions.

No one can stay out of climate change. For China and Norway, it is our shared responsibility and obligation to uphold multilateralism, strengthen cooperation, and contribute to the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement.

To win the race against climate, there is no time to waste, actions must be taken now.

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