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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council Open VTC on "Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Humanitarian Effects of Environmental Degradation and Peace and Security"

2020-09-17 11:01

Mr. President,

I welcome you to chair this meeting. I also thank Mr. Maurer, Mr. Thiaw and Ms. Modja for their briefings.

Climate change and environmental degradation are the common challenges for all countries. According to the "Unite in Science 2020" Climate Report, the heating of our planet has not stopped despite the COVID-19 pandemic; greenhouse gas concentrations reached new record highs in 2020. In the world today, we see places where climate change and environmental degradation endanger people's livelihood, exacerbate the scarcity of resources, and even aggravate existing tensions and conflicts. In Africa and the Middle East, tensions and instability compounded by environmental crisis have led to serious humanitarian consequences. Millions of people are displaced by natural disasters, famine and conflicts.

No country is immune from the impact of global challenges including climate change. The international community must get united, to address these challenges in a coordinated manner and with a holistic approach. Here, I wish to highlight four points.

First, we must prevent conflicts and promote peaceful settlement of disputes.

There's no direct link between environmental issues and peace and security. The security implications of environmental degradation differ from country to country, region to region. And we need to discuss and handle them in a country-specific way. The first step is to identify the root causes of the conflict, evaluate the environmental aspect of the security consequences, and work toward a targeted and specific solution. Policies and mechanism that can balance and reconcile conflicting interests must be put in place. The Security Council, on its part, should effectively implement its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security, promote peaceful settlement of disputesand pave the way for reconstruction.

Second, we must prioritize development, and earnestly implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Climate change is, in essence, a development issue, and can only be addressed through sustainable development. As we kick off the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, the international community should prioritize development and put people first. Countries need to enhance macroeconomic policy coordination with development at the center, promote green and low-carbon transformation, and enhance climate resilience. Efforts should be made to alleviate the humanitarian consequences of environmental degradation and help the vulnerable, making sure that no one is left behind.

Third, we must honor commitments under multilateral consensus, and faithfully fulfill international obligations.

If climate change has security implications, then the implementation of the Paris Agreement and other international consensus on climate change matters not only to the environment, but also to international peace and security.

All countries, especially certain major power, should reinvigorate multilateralism instead of putting oneself first, and fulfill the obligations under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. It is important to follow the principles of "common but differentiated responsibilities" and equity and respective capabilities, and work toward an equitable climate governance regime. Developed countries should honor their commitment of mobilizing US$100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020, set a new collective quantified goal, and help developing countries build preparedness.

Fourth, we must attach great importance to Africa, and support its effort to achieve peace and security.

Africa hosts one-fifth of the world's population, and African affairs make up two-thirds of the Security Council agenda. Silencing the Gun in Africa is not only the aspiration of the African people, but also the top priority of our work. The international community should give full play to the initiative of African countries to resolve their own issues. Efforts should also be made to strengthen their capacity of addressing the potential security risks of climate change and environmental issues.

Given the special challenges facing developing countries, more resources should be pooled to support their mitigation and adaptation efforts, including through funding, technology and capacity-building.

Mr. President,

China stands firm in pursuing green, low-carbon and sustainable development. We faithfully fulfill our obligations under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, and have met our climate target for 2020 two years in advance. China accounts for 25% of the global net increase in leaf area since 2000. We are willing to contribute more and are considering a mid-century long-term vision for climate change.

China is advancing the development of a green Silk Road. We jointly initiated the BRI International Green Development Coalition with the United Nations Environment Programme, helping relevant countries develop renewable energy projects, boosting energy transition and green development.

China is an active champion of South-South cooperation on climate change. We have allocated over 1 billion yuan in recent years to support developing countries, especially African countries and small island states in confronting the challenge of climate change, including through developing low-carbon demonstration zones, carrying out mitigation and adaptation projects, and providing assistance for capacity building.

As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, it is high time that Members States uphold solidarity and unity, champion multilateralism, safeguard the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, join efforts to address climate change, and strive for peace and development of our world.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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