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Dhaka Tribune

Where is China in all the climate noise?

As COP28 commences, China too understands how closely linked the global climate is to other major crises

Update : 05 Dec 2023, 09:07 AM

To accelerate the shift to clean energy, executives of industry and finance, as well as delegates from nearly 200 countries, are in Dubai for the COP28 climate conference. As the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, China and the US will be crucial in achieving agreement. 

According to the Interpreter, China and the US are collaborating at COP28 as part of an international inventory to monitor advancements made toward the common objective of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as specified in the Paris Agreement. The advancement of global climate objectives depends on the effectiveness of these collaborative activities.

How to bridge the gap between existing emission reduction targets and what is required to put the world on a road to rein in global warming is expected to be the main topic of discussion. According to experts who spoke with China Dialogue, China will come under further pressure at COP28 to improve its climate action and participate in the loss and damage fund, which is intended to make up for climate change's inevitable effects on developing nations. 

The nations' combined efforts to reduce emissions will not allow us to reach the 1.5C or 2C warming benchmarks agreed upon at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. That was the conclusion of a recent report on the first global climate action stocktake by the UN. 

China was perceived as friendly and involved in public forums during COP27, but in formal negotiations, the country kept to its established positions, according to CBS. Although there may be more room for a global consensus at COP this year due to the recent US-China climate accord, the two superpowers may often be on opposing sides of the negotiation table. 

However, at the opening of the China pavilion at COP28, Xie Zhenhua, China's climate envoy, stated that China is prepared to continue working with all parties to send a positive signal in this crucial decade, while Huang Runqiu, head of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, expressed his hope that COP28 will fully address the demands of developing countries.

China has the highest emissions globally, but because of its huge population, its emissions per person have stayed far lower than those of the developed world. China may also be the nation that will bear the greatest financial burden if global temperatures rise, according to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. 

According to Li Shuo, the new director of ASPI's China climate hub, China is aware of how the Global South and nations that are susceptible to climate change view it. It faces a conundrum because of its role as the world's top emitter and its professed status as a developing nation. 

If China does not behave in a manner that is consistent with its ever-increasing environmental footprint on the planet, its solidarity with the poor countries will not be regarded as trustworthy. This distinguishes the discussions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from forums such as the G20. China should join the consensus and depoliticize the negotiations in the United Arab Emirates thanks to the presence of vulnerable nations.

The resumption of climate change cooperation between Biden and Xi during their APEC meeting has raised hopes for the stabilization of relations. It is anticipated that China's economic development will slow down even more in the upcoming year, which might be detrimental to Xi's reputation at home. 

Biden, meantime, is juggling difficulties with Middle Eastern and Ukrainian foreign policy and surely would prefer to see no more unrest in the Indo-Pacific area. Both China and the United States acknowledge that the global climate problem is having an increasing impact on nations worldwide. The nations announced their intention to collaborate to address one of the biggest concerns facing both the current and upcoming generations of humans.

More than ever, it is evident how closely linked the global climate is to other major crises, both exacerbating them and influencing our efforts to address them. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's most recent climate research is evident as millions of people already experience severe food and water insecurity brought on by climate change, and efforts to adapt to its effects have not progressed enough to stop suffering and fatalities among people as its effects worsen. 

Globally, there are record-breaking heat waves, unprecedented wildfires, floods, storms, and droughts as a result of climate change. To achieve the objectives of the historic Paris Agreement, much more work has to be done. A crucial chance to set the globe on a more sustainable course is provided by COP28. To preserve human lives and means of subsistence, the conversation about adaptation and resilience must continue.

Md Jahedul Islam is a Senior Research Assistant, BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health.

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