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Repayment of the climate debt

By RUI LOURIDO | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-11-08 08:09
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Developed countries should fulfill their commitments to provide climate finance, technology transfer and training to developing countries

The 16th G20 Leaders' Summit held in Rome on Oct 30 and 31 was marked by discussions on the preparatory work, during all the year 2021 in Italy, by numerous commissions and sectoral meetings of ministers from its members. The G20 represents two-thirds of the world's population, around 90 percent of the world's GDP and 80 percent of international trade (including that within the European Union).

The G20 was faced with three main complex challenges: how to control the COVID-19 pandemic, how to promote a sustainable global economic recovery and, in particular, how to simultaneously control and mitigate climate change. The G20 countries account for 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. These concerns have led thousands of European citizens to demonstrate in Rome and demand concrete answers from their leaders.

The summit took place in the context of great divergences in the members' perspectives on international relations. On the one hand, countries such as China, India and Italy that defend multilateralism advocate for the inclusion of all countries in the search for solutions to the serious and complex current challenges. On the other hand is the United States, which, in order to maintain its hegemony, has been pressing and developing an "us against them "mentality, seeking to stop the legitimate development of China and other developing countries.

At the G20 summit, the US government held parallel talks with several European leaders, but failed to get Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom to agree to form a bloc in favor of a cold or trade war against China.

In the interest of developing countries, President Xi Jinping called for mutual respect, fairness, justice and cooperation for mutual gain, and the convergence of interests to accelerate the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China presented a diverse set of concrete proposals for the building of a global development community with a shared future, which were taken on by the G20.

For greater efficiency in the global response to COVID-19, China introduced the Global Vaccine Cooperation Action Initiative which supports the World Health Organization's call for the suspension of patent rights by major pharmaceutical companies, to guarantee equitable and worldwide access to diagnostics, therapies and the dissemination of vaccines to the most needy countries. Unfortunately, once again, Western countries did not approve the suspension of patents, or the transfer of this essential technology to the needy countries.

We find it unacceptable that, according to the WHO, more than 70 percent of people in developed countries have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but only 3 percent of eligible people in the poorest countries have received a single dose.

China is playing a key role in promoting the global recovery. In addition to financial support for COVAX, a global initiative led by the WHO that is aimed at ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world, as of October it has provided more than 1.6 billion doses of vaccines to more than 100 countries and international organizations and will provide more than 2 billion doses to the world this year. China is carrying out vaccine production cooperation with 16 countries, with an initial capacity of 700 million doses per year.

As for climate change, China has pledged to make efforts to peak its CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Guided by the Chinese government, several provinces have been voluntarily shortening the deadlines for achieving these goals.

Besides, China has developed and is implementing the China Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (2011-30), which has already led to an increase in forest resources of 70 million hectares in the last decade, the largest increase in the world. And Chinese contributions have been included into the final declaration of the G20 Leaders' Summit. This is a positive commitment. China is pushing the G20 to take concrete actions for sustainable global socioeconomic recovery.

The G20 could have been and, in fact, should be much more ambitious. The most developed countries in the West, historically those most responsible for climate change, should set an example in the consequent and verifiable reduction of CO2 emissions, by fulfilling their commitments to provide climate finance, technology transfer and training to developing countries.

This article was published in Portuguese by the Chinese Radio International.

The author is chairman of Observatory for China, Portugal. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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