UK and China collaborate for climate action ahead of Paris 2015

17 June 2014

LONDON: UK and China have pledged their commitment to work together to tackle climate change in a joint statement released today.

The two nations recognize climate change as “one of the greatest global challenges we face” and acknowledge the probability of extreme weather events which put citizens at risk has increased. Citing the landmark IPCC Fifth Assessment report, the countries affirm that it is imperative that the world act on climate now.  

To date bi-lateral cooperation has included carbon market knowledge exchange, a Memorandum of Understanding on offshore wind energy and a new joint research program on low carbon innovation worth £20 million.

International climate action

Furthermore, the two states highlight there is a “clear imperative to work together toward a global framework for ambitious climate change action, since this will support efforts to bring about low carbon transitions in our own countries”.

The 21st Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is described as “a pivotal moment in this global effort”, with the statement’s signatories calling on all parties to determine national climate contributions in advance of the international climate meeting.

The UN’s 21st COP, which is scheduled to take place in Paris 2015, is the deadline for deciding the next global climate treaty which will come into force in 2020.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey commented: “China and the UK stand united in our plans for more collaborative working that will help to achieve long lasting energy security in our own countries. Both governments recognize that tackling climate change is fundamental to our future and have committed to reduce emissions while enhancing energy security by investing in nuclear power. The joint statement with China reflects our shared intent to re-double efforts for an ambitious global agreement and domestic solutions to climate change.”

The political leadership on climate action which the UK and China advocate echoes sentiments expressed by Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group in the wake of the China EU climate partnership.

“Paris 2015 will be a seminal event in the climate change trajectory but it is over a year away. It is vitally important that leaders act now to secure a better future for us. There is no time to waste", the Director urged.

Air pollution

The leaders also acknowledge that the burning of fossil fuels contributes not only to the global rise in temperatures, but also to air pollution which has a detrimental impact on the quality of life for millions of UK and China residents.

China, specifically, has had a severe problem with air pollution, and in October last year Harbin in the northeast of the country, was forced to temporarily close down due to alarmingly high levels of particulate matter in the air. Furthermore, a recent UN report found that globally, air pollution was responsible for the premature deaths of 1 in 8 people in 2012.

As the UK China statement recognizes, air pollution and climate changeshare many of the same root causes, as well as many of the same solutions”.

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By Alana Ryan

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