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Global climate alliance steps up joint action

By HOU LIQIANG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-09-07 10:28
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Wang Binbin, GAUC's executive secretary-general, extended an invitation to global organizations and institutions with an interest in the sustainable development of humanity to take part in Global Youth Climate Week this October. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A China-initiated alliance of 15 leading universities launched a campaign on Monday in search of a systematic, global solution to the looming consequences of devastating climate change.

Dubbed "Climate X", the agenda of the campaign launched by the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate features a Climate X Leadership Training Pilot, co-initiated by Sciences Po in Paris and Tsinghua University in Beijing.

A regional event titled the African Regional Forum on Climate Change will be organized by South Africa's Stellenbosch University, the alliance's only African member, according to a media release from the alliance secretariat at Tsinghua.

Three additional international events are planned this year, namely the Global Youth Climate Week, the GAUC Climate X Summit, and the GAUC COP27 event at the 27th United Nations climate change conference, widely known as COP 27, which is slated to be held in Egypt in November.

Proposed by Tsinghua in 2019 during the World Economic Forum in Davos, the GAUC aims to create collective global leadership for efforts by higher education toward addressing climate change. It currently consists of 15 of the world's leading universities.

"This is a time of enormous challenge. Our health and well-being, peace and prosperity and nature itself are under threat," Amina J.Mohammed, UN deputy secretary-general, said via video link during the launch ceremony in Beijing.

Mohammed underscored the urgent need for ambitious action to protect people and the planet, citing extreme droughts and the resulting food crisis in the Horn of Africa, the heat waves across Europe and the recent flooding in Asia, as examples.

The most pressing problems confronting countries are ultimately global in nature and they demand global solutions, she stressed, adding that "the focus of the Climate X campaign is an excellent example of this".

Also addressing the opening ceremony, Tsinghua University President Wang Xiqin, who is chair of the GAUC board, highlighted the adverse impacts of climate change.

Climate change's negative impact on the environment has spread to the economy and society, strengthening public awareness of the vulnerability of the world and highlighting the need for urgent collective action, he said.

"Being here with you today, I see the power of youth driving us toward the optimistic prospect of a sustainable, net-zero future," he said.

Climate change is not only relevant to people's lives today, but also to future generations, he said, and it is closely intertwined with the wellbeing of humans and other species.

To overcome a challenge of such complexity, Wang stressed the need for cross-disciplinary thinking to be able to understand the synergy among climate change and social and economic sectors, and then leverage that synergy toward effective and innovative solutions.

"Working closely hand-in-hand, I look forward to more emerging opportunities for greater achievements," he said.

According to the GAUC secretariat, the alliance has proposed the launch of the Global Youth Climate Week to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Scheduled ahead of each UN Climate Change Conference, it is envisaged as a way of helping the young around the world formulate concrete steps toward global climate governance by coordinating global action.

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