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                                    Tackling global climate change calls for active participation

                                    Author  :  Li Qiang     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2020-01-10

                                    A community of shared future for mankind is a solution proposed by China to address the challenges facing world peace and development based on the common interests of all mankind in the era of globalization, an era where all of mankind shares ups and downs and the development paths of countries are highly interdependent. The “community of share future for climate” can be seen as the extension of this proposal.

                                    In terms of connotation, the community of shared-future climate for mankind is an order of global governance based on the international climate mechanism that can be widely accepted by the world. It features distinct concepts of dependency, equity and sustainability.

                                    Dependency means that there is only one earth for mankind and that no country can be immune from the impact of climate change. In the face of climate disaster, all countries have common interests and a common destiny of converging interests, so they must stick together through thick and thin. The severity and urgency of climate change requires the international community to take effective action as soon as possible to mitigate and adapt to its negative impacts.

                                    Equity refers to the responsibility of all countries to tackle climate change. All countries have a common responsibility to make efforts to address climate change and no country has the right to escape from this responsibility. However, this responsibility itself is differentiated. Developed and developing countries have different historical responsibilities for greenhouse gas emissions and different capacities for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Therefore, “common but differentiated responsibilities” best explains the principle of equity. Sustainability means that in the process of building a community of shared future for climate, we must prudently handle the coordinated development of ecology, economy and society.

                                    The signing and entry into force of the Paris Agreement has ushered in the “Post-Paris Era” of global climate governance and demonstrated the ambition of mankind to address climate change. However, building a community of shared future for climate remains a daunting challenge.

                                    The core issue of the international climate game is the quota for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, which is directly related to economic development in terms of a nation’s current energy consumption structure. Concerning the quota issue, three main patterns have formed in the climate change game: the NorthSouth game, the South-South game and the North-North game. After the United States withdrew from the Paris Agreement, the game has developed in a more complex direction.

                                    As the first global agreement to reduce emissions, the Paris Agreement has made certain binding rules on mitigation, adaptation, capital, technology and capacity building concerning climate change. However, the exit of the US could possibly trigger the domino effect, inciting those countries that have taken a wait-and-see attitude to follow suit, thereby leading global climate governance into the abyss of a crisis.

                                    Despite the withdrawal of the US, the country has still asserted its commitment to tackling global climate change. Up to now, it is not realistic to resume negotiations and forge a global climate deal satisfactory to the US, but there is still possibility that the country will come back. It is therefore important to avoid the US’s behavior of “holding back” and instead strive for its return. In addition, multilateral or bilateral cooperation with the US through platforms such as the conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the G20 Summit will also play a positive role.

                                    Promoting global climate governance is the main way to build the community of shared future for climate. Global climate governance aims to establish an international climate mechanism that is universally accepted and followed by the international community. By formulating measurable, reportable and verifiable quota allocation methods for the reduction of greenhouse gas emission, we can mobilize countries in the broadest sense to participate in global climate governance and curtail “free riding” behavior.

                                    Another point is to strengthen the dissemination of climate knowledge. The international community’s understanding of climate change has undergone a major shift from a purely scientific to a political one. Climate change communication has played an important role in this transition. By enabling society and the public to understand and master climate change information and relevant scientific knowledge, public attitudes and behaviors toward climate change can be altered.

                                    To be convinced of the facts, causes and serious consequences of climate change is a necessary cognitive prerequisite. Though the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report provides solid data to confirm that global warming is mainly caused by human activities, a few countries still insist that there is scientific uncertainty about global warming, and even former US President George W. Bush and President Donald Trump have claimed that global warming is a “shocking hoax” against the US. Therefore, there is significant need to publicize the facts and serious consequences of climate change among the public, in order to prompt them to develop low-carbon concepts and take action.

                                    In conclusion, it is crucial for all the countries to shoulder their due responsibilities and act in a prudent way. In face of the international community’s expectations on global climate governance, China should also act prudently and adopt the “China-plus” model, working together with other countries to promote the enforcement of the provisions of the Paris Agreement.

                                     

                                    Professor Li Qiang is dean of the School of International Relations at Tianjin Foreign Studies University.

                                    Editor: Yu Hui

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