Multilateralism urged in climate efforts

Time:2019-12-11 09:33:47

Commending China's consistent leadership in tackling climate change, President of the United Nations General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande called on countries to uphold multilateralism in the world's climate efforts despite the United States leaving the landmark Paris climate agreement.

More than midway through the UN climate change conference, slated to conclude on Friday, the meeting has failed to make progress as expected. In an exclusive interview with China Daily, however, the General Assembly president said he is confident that the gathering of almost 200 countries will end in success.

The conference in Madrid is tasked with putting the finishing touches on rules governing the 2015 Paris agreement and also checking how developed countries have honored their commitment to provide $100 billion in financial support to the developing nations for climate mitigation and adaptation, as called for in the accord.

The conference is being held against the backdrop of the US beginning on Nov 4 the process of withdrawing from the Paris agreement. Under the terms of the treaty, the withdrawal will take effect one year from the delivery of notification of intent to withdraw.

"Those who still believe the agreement should continue, should do their part, whether they are big countries or small countries," said Muhammad-Bande, former permanent representative of Nigeria to the United Nations. The political scientist was elected president of the assembly's 74th session in June.

He also said countries that still believe in the agreement should be an "example and continue to show why it's important to be in the agreement" while encouraging US cities and companies to remain on the track of climate action.

Referring to the US withdrawal as presenting "small difficulties, which in the long run are likely to change", he said commitment to the Paris agreement will help guarantee a future for the planet.

"I think the leadership of China is very consistent, ensuring that they are committed to the agreement," he said. "China, given its role and its importance for this subject, and India and other countries, I think, are showing leadership."He also said China's efforts in developing solar energy will potentially offer an incentive for many countries as they work to meet their power needs.

"At one time, coal was necessary. … You have to use what is available. But more and more, I think there are alternatives," he said.

Muhammad-Bande also urged developed countries to fully honor the pledges of financial support they made to poor nations.

"They made these things willingly. … A commitment is a commitment and we should continue to remind people to still remember the commitment because of the importance of the commitment itself," he said.

Though rifts still linger over the little-known and highly technical Article Six, which includes a market-based mechanism parties have yet to reach consensus on, Muhammad-Bande said difficulties in addressing disputes should not create pessimism over the conference's results.

The article is the last hard nut to crack in the Paris agreement, which will be implemented after 2020.

"If it were not difficult, people wouldn't come. Easy things are not hardly worth effort," he said. "We are confident that they know the weight of world opinion on this matter. They will come to a compromise.

"I remain optimistic that we are on the right track and we will arrive there," he said.

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