- France and China released a joint statement to “reaffirm their strong conviction that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity” on the first day of French President François Hollande’s official state visit to China last week.
- Hollande had previously said he hoped to get Chinese President Xi Jinping to agree to mandatory strengthening of emissions cuts every five years.
- According to a recent UN analysis, global temperatures will rise 2.7°C by 2100 if the commitments made in the run up to the Paris talks were to be carried out.
Just one month before the UN climate talks to be held in Paris this December, China and France issued a call for countries to commit to regular reviews of whether or not they are honoring their emissions-reduction commitments.
France and China released a joint statement to “reaffirm their strong conviction that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity” on the first day of French President François Hollande’s official state visit to China last week.
In the statement, the two countries publicly announced their position that for any deal agreed to in Paris to be successful it must include a full assessment every five years of the progress being made towards achieving long-term goals to avert runaway climate change.
Hollande had previously said he hoped to get Chinese President Xi Jinping to agree to mandatory strengthening of emissions cuts every five years, but the statement stops short of calling for automatic increases in emissions reduction targets and instead calls only for regular check-ins.
Still, it is clear Xi and Hollande hope to position their countries as climate leaders, as the two resolved to work together to push for “an ambitious and legally binding Paris agreement.”
This is one of the more notable and encouraging aspects of the joint statement, since China was accused of derailing the UN climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009 partly due to its reluctance to commit to any deal that might constrain its future economic growth.
China has come a long way from that position, however. In June, the country pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions between 60 and 65 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2030, while Chinese officials have gone on record saying that their country’s emissions will peak by 2030 if not earlier. China also signed a climate deal with the United States last year in which it committed to its first ever emissions reductions.
Current pledges from more than 140 countries ahead of the Paris climate talks aren’t enough to keep the world below the 2°C threshold climate scientists say is necessary to avert the worst impacts of global warming. According to a recent UN analysis, global temperatures would rise 2.7°C by 2100 if the commitments made in the run up to the Paris talks were to be carried out.
Jennifer Morgan, the director of the climate program at World Resources Institute, said in a statement emailed to Mongabay that the joint announcement bodes well for a strong agreement in Paris.
“The announcement by China and France makes it more likely that the Paris climate agreement will send the strong short- and long-term signals that are necessary to transform our global economy,” Morgan said. “A growing number of countries are coming forward to support a robust and effective climate agreement this year. All countries must work together to get us over the finish line.”
Greenpeace France executive director Jean-François Julliard agreed that the China-France statement was a positive step, albeit a small one. “This is no time for champagne,” Julliard said, according to the Guardian.
While leadership from France and China is welcome, the important thing is that they continue to build on that momentum, Julliard said.
“This bilateral statement should be another springboard instead of the last word for the Paris agreement. … What the world needs in Paris is a global long-term vision of a 100% renewable energy supply, for all, by mid-century and increased ambition by countries every five years starting from now.”