The annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), which brings together Asia-Pacific businesses and governments to promote economic and social development, is upon us. One of the pressing matters for this year’s forum is the climate catastrophe.

Plenty of discussion and even more action is needed if we are to meet the Sustainable Development Goals to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this goal, as set out by the Paris Climate Agreement, global carbon emissions need to be reduced by 45 percent by 2030, from 2010 levels, and net-zero emissions must be reached by 2050. The agreement also requests each country to outline and communicate their post-2020 climate actions, known as their nationally determined contributions.

Unfortunately, as reported in the UN’s The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021, despite a slight downtrend in carbon emissions, due to COVID-19, by December 2020, emissions fully rebounded. Indeed, carbon emissions were 2 percent higher than in December 2019, leading the report to say “the climate crisis continues largely unabated.”

Even worse is that the crisis in Ukraine risks greater carbon pollution. Despite the push by Europeans towards green energy, the blocking of Russian natural gas will slowdown the phasing out of coal power while pushing for fuels that will drive up carbon emissions.

Shipping liquefied gas from the U.S. and increasing fracking, to make up for Russia being blocked out of the “free market,” clearly isn’t healthy for the environmental economy. Indeed, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres fears that these actions further endanger the goal of meeting global warming limits.

If one was to conclude that because the developed West falls into arrears so should developing China then one would be mistaken. China has strong social, political and economic reasons for remaining committed to achieving carbon neutrality and sustainable development.

The Chinese Embassy, Pretoria

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