Delegates at the ongoing Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2021 commended the agreement between China and the United States to cooperate on climate change, stressing the crucial role of their collaboration in tackling the global challenge.
The two countries have issued a joint statement addressing the climate crisis after talks between China Special Envoy for Climate Change, Xie Zhenhua, and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, on Thursday and Friday in Shanghai.
Kevin Rudd, president of the non-profit Asia Society Policy Institute and former Australian prime minister, said the discussion between the special envoys represents the first step towards a realistic climate collaboration between the two countries.
"We should all encourage the U.S. and China to make this the first of many steps on the way to Glasgow," Rudd said, referring to the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which will be held in the Scottish city. Rudd made the remarks at a session themed "Build a New Way of International Cooperation in a Post-Pandemic World" on Monday.
Rudd added that an important question that needs to be answered at COP26 is how to bring the rest of the world along with the plan to achieve carbon neutrality by the middle of the century, aided by China-U.S. collaboration.
Siddharth Chatterjee, the new U.N. resident coordinator in China, said that the two major greenhouse gas emitters have the economic might, capacity, and ability to solve the climate emergency the world is facing today.
"The U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has declared a climate emergency, and this is a time where we need the leadership of China and the U.S. to come together," Chatterjee said.
Speaking at a briefing during the BFA annual conference on Sunday, Chatterjee said the two countries have some of the brightest minds and greatest scientists in the world and that they should work together, share knowledge, experience, technology, and best practices in terms of renewable energy. "I believe this itself will give us the velocity on the way forward," Chatterjee stated.
Chatterjee also emphasized the urgent need to promote international cooperation on climate change, saying, "This is the only planet we have and it's an existential emergency that we are in."
He noted that there are many opportunities to facilitate such cooperation, including the COP26 and the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), scheduled for Oct. 11 to 24 in Kunming, the capital of southwestern China's Yunnan province.
Erik Solheim, former executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), said that the meeting between the special envoys is promising and he looks forward to seeing China and the U.S. collaborate to provide needed leadership in global climate change efforts.
Solheim, now serving as convener of the Advisory Committee of the Belt and Road Initiative International Green Development Coalition, said both China and the U.S. are moving fast domestically to advance green development.
The U.S. administration, for example, has unveiled a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan which includes allocations to spur electric vehicle adoption, boost wind energy, and encourage low-emission technology, Solheim said via video link at another briefing.
Meanwhile, in China, all provinces, cities, and companies are asking themselves how they can live up to the country's great commitment of reaching peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060, Solheim continued.
He said that by working together, the two countries can provide desperately needed green technology to the world and help set the rules for global climate finance.
This year's BFA annual conference runs from April 18 to 21 in Boao, a coastal town in south China's Hainan province. The theme of the conference is "A World in Change: Join Hands to Strengthen Global Governance and Advance Belt and Road Cooperation."