Ban Ki-moon: China must offer global climate ‘leadership’

UN Secretary General hails Chinese efforts to combat climate change during trip to Shanghai

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

By Sophie Yeo

China must provide “global leadership” in the fight against climate change, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Shanghai yesterday.

The UN chief is visiting China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead of the climate change summit that he will convene in September, where world leaders are invited to make “bold pledges” on how their country can tackle global warming.

China should lead this global effort, Ban stressed during a talk to the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, and highlighted existing government actions to address the country’s rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions.

“Here in China you are on the frontlines of the fight – with new carbon markets, large investments in renewable energy and strong new laws on pollution,” he said.

Since arriving in China on Sunday, Ban Ki-moon has held discussions with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. According to a UN spokesperson, Ban told Li that he hoped to see China present both its national and global climate vision during his September Summit.

In 2009 China pledged to reduce its output of greenhouse gases 40-45% per unit of GDP by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. Since Chinese emissions continue to grow, this does not equal a reduction in absolute emissions.

Development goals

Due to the rate of its greenhouse gas emissions, China’s contribution to a 2015 UN climate deal will be crucial to the global push to stop global warming reaching dangerous levels. China is engaging in intense diplomacy with other large emitters from the developed world, particularly the US, in order to figure out how to shape such a deal.

Ban also highlighted the importance of shaping the UN’s new development framework, called the Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. The new targets, he said, will help to end extreme poverty and “allow us to focus on sustainable development as a model for the global economy.”

The impacts of climate change are already being felt across the world, said Ban: “Key resources – energy, food, land, water, clean air – are in progressively shorter supply.”

Scientists, economists and the military have all sounded the alarm on the negative consequences of a warmer world.

A report last week from ratings agency Standard and Poor (S&P) warned that climate change could threaten sovereign credit ratings, with vulnerable countries being hit the hardest. Bangladesh, Senegal and Vietnam were the placed at the bottom of S&P’s ranking of vulnerable countries.

The report explained: “This is in part due to their reliance on agricultural production and employment, which can be vulnerable to shifting climate patterns and extreme weather events, but also due to their weaker capacity to absorb the financial cost.”

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