When the global climate crisis aggravates, can the UN climate conference turn promises into actions?

By Ruan Yulin, CNS:

On November 6-18, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) was held in Sharm el-Sheikh, a coastal city of Egypt. Since the beginning of 2022, frequent occurrence of extreme weather conditions, the Ukraine crisis and wide-spread of energy crisis in Europe bring more uncertainties to the prospect of global response to climate change. Against such a background, the international community pays close attention to this conference.

Recently, Xu Huaqing, who is attending the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, gave an exclusive interview to the column W.E. Talk of CNS recently to offer his opinions on current hotspots in global climate change. Xu Huaqing is the expert in the Chinese delegation for the United Nations climate change conference and the director of the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation. He was once given the contribution award to 2007 Nobel Peace Prize by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He started to work in the Chinese government’s delegation for negotiations on climate change and its expert panel from 2000.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

CNS: The global energy situation is not optimistic, and some European countries are considering an increase in the use of traditional energy. Will it increase the uncertainty in the global response to climate change? 

Xu Huaqing: Profound changes took place in the Eurasian geopolitical pattern since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis. In particular, the EU firmly pursues the energy policy of excluding Russia, and has imposed several rounds of sanction against Russia following the practice of the US. All this leads to an obvious security crisis in global energy supply.

For European countries, the uncertainty in energy supply aggravates the European energy predicament and threatens the energy security of the EU. It has also disclosed how fragile the European energy structure is and the structural contradiction in the energy transition. It not only exerts great impact on the European energy security strategy, but also challenges the European climate policy. 

Main EU member states such as Germany begin to resort to coal-fired power, which causes serious concern of the international community over the rollback of the EU’s climate policy. If Europe pursues a more radical policy for renewable energy, it will accelerate the development of renewable energy in Europe. That will become an accelerator for its new policies for green development, and also help the EU to realize its long-term climate goal. 

CNS: The United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in a developing country this year. Does it mean this conference shows more concern to developing countries which are economically underdeveloped and more vulnerable to climate-driven hazards? 

Xu Huaqing: COP27 held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, attracted extensive attention from across the world. Since this conference was held in a developing country, it should earnestly respond to the concerns of developing countries and reflect their demands. We expect that we can, along with other parties of the conference, have COP27 fit the theme of “implementation” and highlight the two issues most concerned by developing countries—adaptation and funds. 

Adaptation is a core concern of developing countries. It has not received due attention in the multilateral process for a long time. COP27 should step up efforts to obtain real achievements from the Glasgow-Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on the global goal on adaptation, thus laying a solid foundation for COP28 to be held next year to reach a forceful and feasible GGA. The Chinese side supports UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ proposal for setting up a global early warning system. Developed countries should scale up their financial support for the adaptation actions of developing countries and put forward a road map for doubling the fund. 


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