Xi says climate summit a 'starting point'

Xi says climate summit a 'starting point'
PHOTO: AFP

A new model emerging for 'win-win' global governance, president tells leaders.

President Xi Jinping said the United Nations climate conference beginning Monday is "not a finishing line, but a new starting point" as an important part of global governance.

He joined up to 150 world leaders attending the UN climate summit in Paris, which aims to set the tone for a Paris agreement to provide a global framework for cutting greenhouse emissions from 2020 onward.

Xi said the leaders' presence at the conference, held just two weeks after the terrorist attacks in Paris, shows that terrorism cannot impede efforts to address climate change.

It is the largest gathering of global leaders under one roof in one day, said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Observers said they were impressed by the vision and sense of responsibility shown in Xi's speech.

"The Paris conference should reject the narrow-minded mentality of a zero-sum game," said Xi, adding that the Paris climate conference should yield positive and practical results with a comprehensive, balanced, ambitious and binding agreement.

Xi said that tackling climate change is a shared mission for mankind and that global efforts on climate change are like a mirror reflecting for other countries a model for future global governance.

The principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" should be adhered to, the president said, and the conference should create a win-win future, with each country contributing to the best of its ability and with countries being allowed to seek their own solutions.

Xi joined other leaders in trying to break the deadlock on financing in the UN climate negotiations and to bring real money to the table.

He urged developed countries to honour a commitment of a $100 billion climate fund each year by 2020 and to provide strong support to developing countries afterward. Meanwhile, it's also important that climate-friendly technology should be transferred to developing countries, he said.

China has pledged to provide 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) to establish the South-South Cooperation Fund on Climate Change to support other developing countries in coping with climate change.

Xi said ecological projects will be featured prominently in China's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20). He said China will help developing countries set up 10 low-carbon pilot zones from 2016.

Zhang Xiaohua, senior programme officer for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said Xi's speech showed the sense of responsibility of a big emerging economy. "Solidarity was mentioned in President Xi's speech and in other leaders' speeches, and only integrated co-operation can effectively address climate change and achieve win-win results," said Zhang.

Jake Schmidt, director of the international programme at the Natural Resources Defence Council, said China has made strong financial commitments to developing countries.

"As President Xi said, it is a 'win-win' because helping developing countries with low carbon growth will reduce global greenhouse gases while ensuring that economic growth does not sacrifice clean air and water," he said.

Additionally, Xi said efforts from businesses and NGOs are also important for addressing climate change and that improving public awareness is important.

Huang Haoming, vice chairman and executive director of the Beijing-based China Association for NGO Cooperation, said he was excited about Xi's message, which he said focused on action, common efforts of global players and the participation of every sector of society.

"I am encouraged by his visions. President Xi pointed out in his speech that the climate fight is not only the responsibility of the government. The participation of the NGO and business sectors is essential in achieving success in fighting climate change," Huang said in Paris.

"Most important, as President Xi said, action is crucial. It is very important to materialize the goals once we set targets," he said.

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