China’s top climate envoy calls on rich countries to support poor countries most at risk of environmental damage

China’s top climate diplomat has called on rich countries to step up their support for developing countries that have the most to lose from climate change.

His comments came at the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt, where delegates from nearly 200 countries are preparing to discuss issues including compensating poorer countries for damage related to global warming over the next two years. to soften.

“I hope that this time the conference will meet the demands of developing countries as much as possible, as it will be held in Egypt, a developing country,” said Xie Zhenhua, China’s special envoy on climate change.

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He spoke on Sunday at an event in the Chinese pavilion at the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Xie said he hoped this year’s summit can meet developing countries’ needs in emissions reduction, financing, adaptation and capacity building, and that progress will be made in addressing their losses to damage caused by climate change.

The thorny issue of compensating rich countries to poorer countries most vulnerable to climate change is expected to be high on the agenda of the COP27 summit for the first time.

Diplomats from around the world approved a much-discussed agenda item on Sunday to discuss “financing arrangements for loss and damage related to the adverse effects of climate change, including a focus on addressing loss and damage”.

The agreement “reflects a sense of solidarity and empathy for the suffering of the victims of climate-induced disasters,” Egyptian President Sameh Shoukry, the president of COP27, told the opening plenary on Sunday.

However, the case is expected to be divisive. Previous attempts to address loss and damage have failed, with rich countries reluctant to fund lower-income countries for their smaller share of greenhouse gas emissions.

Rich countries have failed to keep their promise to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer countries deal with climate change. They made the pledge in 2009 at the COP15 Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), developed countries provided only $83.3 billion in July.

At the COP26 summit in Glasgow last year, the European Union and the United States rejected calls for a separate financial mechanism.

China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, has sent a delegation of more than 50 people to Egypt this year, led by Zhao Yingmin, Deputy Minister of Ecology and Environment.

Xie said on Sunday that China has “actively implemented” its commitments under the Paris Agreement as it aims to achieve maximum carbon emissions by the end of this decade and carbon neutrality by 2060.

China’s “carbon intensity” — a measure of emissions it produces as a percentage of GDP — was 3.8 percent lower than its 2020 level last year and 50.8 percent less than in 2005, he said.

“We call on all sectors of the international community to adopt green and low-carbon manufacturing and lifestyles… and make a positive contribution to the global response to climate change,” said Xie.

He did not say whether China would hold talks with the US, the world’s second largest carbon emitter, on topics related to climate cooperation. China suspended bilateral talks on climate issues in August, one of several measures taken in retaliation for the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.

John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy on climate, said last month that he hoped delegates from both countries could meet in Sharm el-Sheikh.

“We have argued adamantly that it is not a bilateral relationship, but a multilateral global threat…I still sincerely hope that we will come together and that China and the United States will find the opportunity to work together,” Kerry said recently. . month.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative reporting on China and Asia for over a century. For more SCMP stories, explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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