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China, Germany to lead on climate protection at G20

By Fu Jing in Berlin | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-07-07 21:55

Members expected to get behind drive to promote sustainable development

China and Germany, the previous and current hosts of the G20 summit, have consistently put climate change, green finance, and sustainable development high on the agenda, said Barbara Hendricks, Germany’s federal environment minister.

"We are building on the success of the previous Chinese G20 presidency, with regards to climate change, green finance and sustainable development," Hendricks told China Daily in a written interview ahead of global leaders gathering in Hamburg for the summit on Friday and Saturday.

When China hosted the G20 summit in Hangzhou in September, President Xi Jinping and then-US President Barack Obama showed a strong commitment to tackle climate challenges by ratifying the Paris Agreement. But about one month ago, United States President Donald Trump revealed his decision to withdraw from the global deal.

"We regret the US announcement to withdraw from the Paris Agreement," said Hendricks. "However, this agreement is irreversible ... China and Germany both stand behind the Paris Agreement. In individual statements, President Xi and Chancellor Angela Merkel have made this very clear."

Hendricks said both countries have adopted ambitious national steps through action plans and legislation to curb emissions from different sectors and increase investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The minister cited a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that says climate policies combined with structural reforms will lead to 5 percent more GDP growth in the G20 by 2050.

"Jointly, we want to embrace these economic opportunities," said Hendricks. "Our objective is a solid outcome at the Hamburg summit that will provide clear, long-term guidance also to the private sector."

She said implementation is picking up speed around the world and that US states, cities, and companies are cooperating and taking action, despite the White House decision.

"This is what we are building on in our cooperation with the US," said Hendricks. "And, like China, we have just signed a joint statement on climate action with the state of California, and also plan new activities within the Transatlantic Climate Bridge program that stands for an intensive dialogue with a broad range of stakeholders."

The minister said the greening and decarbonizing of the world’s economy will continue, with China and Germany seizing opportunities.

"With China playing a more and more important role in these markets, the EU and China have the opportunity to enhance their partnership, to learn from each other's experience, and to steer global investment toward innovation and sustainability," said Hendricks.

The minister welcomed China living up to its international climate commitments and lauded its increased cooperation with developing nations around climate change and sustainable development.

"In our bilateral Climate Change Working Group, we have already had discussions with our Chinese counterparts on how we can work together on questions of trilateral and South-South cooperation," said Hendricks.

Arne Tesli, a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, agreed that climate change will be an important subject at the G20 summit.

Despite the decision of the US to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, all other members attach great importance to implementing it, said Tesli.

"I don't see any other countries wanting to pull back from the agreement because everybody has seen the reality and they need to act in terms of those realities. So, I think it will be the major issue," said Tesli, who noted that the way in which green and sustainable development is achieved will be a major theme at the summit.

Yan Huan and Wei Han in Brussels contributed to this story.

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