Chinese Climate Official Calls for Pragmatic Approach Ahead of COP28 Climate Talks

In the lead-up to the COP28 talks set to convene in Dubai late next month, a senior Chinese climate official has emphasized the need for practical and realistic strategies in addressing climate change. Xia Yingxian, the head of the climate office at 's Ministry of Ecology and Environment, articulated the importance of considering issues such as energy security, employment, and economic growth alongside climate concerns.

The forthcoming global climate negotiations are expected to concentrate on bridging gaps in the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement, as highlighted in the United Nations' “global stocktake” report published in September. The report underscored that the world has fallen behind on climate targets and called for comprehensive action to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Xia Yingxian asserted that wealthier nations must fulfill their commitment to provide $100 billion in annual climate for economically disadvantaged countries. He also urged the establishment of a financial mechanism to address “loss and damage” and a doubling of adaptation funds. According to him, developed nations bear a significant responsibility for global climate change and possess the capacity to address it effectively.

While increased focus on reducing reliance on fossil fuels is expected at COP28, China, the world's largest consumer of coal and the leading emitter of climate-warming greenhouse gases, has been cautious about committing to a phase-out of coal. Xia Yingxian stressed the need for COP28 to recognize the diverse starting points and national circumstances of each country, warning against “empty slogans” and a “one size fits all” approach that could hinder the multilateral climate change process.

He emphasized that COP28 should facilitate effective coordination between climate change mitigation efforts and other vital needs, such as poverty reduction, energy security, job creation, and economic development.

China has already made substantial strides in combating climate change, including a remarkable 51% reduction in carbon intensity since 2005 and an increase in the share of non-fossil fuel energy to 17.5% of total consumption. Xia Yingxian noted that China has played a pivotal role in multilateral climate cooperation.

China's climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua, recently indicated that a complete phase-out of fossil fuels was deemed “unrealistic.” However, he expressed China's willingness to engage in discussions concerning the establishment of a global target during the upcoming talks.

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