Remarks by H.E. Luo Zhaohui, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the Online Seminar on Ecological Environment Protection of Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Cooperation
2 February 2021
Your Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon,
Your Excellency Special Envoy Xie Zhenhua,
Your Excellency Secretary Wu Yingjie,
Your Excellency Chairman Qi Zhala,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Greetings to you all!
It is my high honor to attend the Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Cooperation, co-hosted by China’s Foreign Ministry and Tibet Autonomous Region. The event is certainly graced with the presence of so many distinguished speakers joining us online to share the experience of the Tibet Autonomous Region in ecological preservation. The seminar will also explore the ways to advance international cooperation on climate change and pursue green and sustainable development. On behalf of China’s Foreign Ministry, I extend warm welcome and congratulations to all participants of the seminar. I also thank the Tibet Autonomous Region and my colleagues for their thoughtful preparations.
Today, I wish to share with you my following thoughts:
First, transnational problems require transnational responses. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the end of the Cold War. These past 30 years have seen higher frequency of non-traditional security threats. The 1997 Asian financial crisis, the September 11 attacks, the global financial crisis and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have all posed major threats to the survival, security and development of humanity. These transnational problems cannot be solved by any country alone. Nor can any country stay immune. What we need is transnational cooperation.
Climate change is one of the primary and most immediate non-traditional security threats to humanity. Snow and ice in the polar regions are melting and the sea level is rising, at a faster pace. Climate change has also caused devastating floods and severe damage to ecosystems and biodiversity.
Climate change affects the present and future of all humanity. We are very heartened to see increasing political will and consensus among the international community for stronger cooperation on climate change. In the past few months alone, the UN Summit on Biodiversity, the Climate Ambition Summit, the One Planet Summit and the Climate Adaptation Summit were held. This year, China will host the COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity. And the COP26 of the UNFCCC will be hosted by the UK. We are also pleased to learn that the new US administration has announced the US return to the Paris Agreement.
Second, China has been at the forefront of global climate governance. China actively participates in global governance processes on climate change, biodiversity and other environment issues. Chinese leaders attended all the climate summits I have just mentioned. As President Xi Jinping has stated, China will scale up its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Late last year, President Xi set out the steps to meet these goals. All this speaks volumes about China’s resolve and ambition to tackle climate change and pursue green and low-carbon development. This, we believe, will help boost global confidence in climate governance.
Third, China has made good progress in climate response. Harmony between nature and human is deeply valued in traditional Chinese philosophy, as described in a Chinese adage, “in picturesque mountains can people find more temples.” Ecological conservation is an important component of our five-sphere integrated plan for development. We are guided by the Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization, which stresses the harmonious coexistence of humankind and nature, the notion that clean rivers and lush mountains are invaluable assets, and the importance of a holistic approach to managing the ecosystems of mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, farmland and grassland. Guided by this Thought, we pursue green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable ways of life and production, actively promote nature-based solutions (NBS), and advance cooperation on the “green Silk Road”. China has achieved important outcomes in all these areas. One fourth of the world’s green leaf area newly added since the year 2000 is in China. China now accounts for 30 percent of the world’s installed capacity of renewable energy and more than half of the new-energy vehicles sold globally.
Chairman Qi Zhala has just shared with us what the Tibet Autonomous Region has accomplished in ecological conservation. I wish to emphasize that the autonomous region’s natural environment is among the best preserved in the world. Its aquatic system and atmosphere are free from pollution. Fifty percent of its territory is under national-standard ecological protection. Strong efforts have been made for all this to happen. This has not only played an important role in China’s ecological advancement, but also contributed useful experience and solid progress to global ecological governance.
Fourth, we need to take trans-Himalayan cooperation to new heights. Supported by the Foreign Ministry, the Tibet Autonomous Region founded this Forum back in 2018. Two track-1.5 meetings were held in Nyingchi city of Tibet. The trans-Himalayan countries have big populations, huge markets, close historical and cultural ties, rich natural resources, and strong economic complementarity. There are broad prospects for friendly exchanges and practical cooperation, which has led to the inception of this Forum.
Committed to open cooperation, mutual benefit and public-private partnership, the Forum has provided a new platform for regional cooperation on connectivity and development. It has produced fruitful outcomes. We welcome closer engagement with and more input from other countries, especially those with close economic, cultural and historical ties with the trans-Himalayan countries. We could explore cooperation in many fields, including on ecological governance. We could identify more areas of cooperation that taps into the strength of this Forum. I hope today’s seminar will be the first of many more meetings under the Forum on ecological environment. And I do hope to meet you in person next time.
There is only one Earth in the universe. It is the home of all humankind. Natural environment provides the very foundation for human survival and development. Climate change and environmental governance require strong efforts in the many years to come. Countries can only realize a shared future for all life on Earth and build a vibrant, clean and beautiful world if we make concerted efforts on ecological conservation. China is prepared to work closely with other countries to usher in a new beginning in global climate governance.
In conclusion, I wish the seminar a full success. Thank you!