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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Climate, Peace, and Security

2023-06-13 18:00

Madam President,

China welcomes Your Excellency’s presence at the Council today presiding of this meeting. We thank Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix, His Excellency Mr. Juan Manuel Santos, and Ms. Salma Kadry for the briefings.

The challenges posed by climate change to human life and the development of all countries are more and more acutely felt. It is all the more urgent and imperative for the international community to come together and work together to address climate change. China supports the international community's endeavors in the following areas, upholding the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as the main forum for deliberations on climate issues, adhering to the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities, equity, and respective capacities, strengthening policy coordination, increasing support for developing countries in terms of finance, technology, and capacity building, fully and effectively implementing the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement, and making fresh headway in global climate governance on an ongoing basis. China supports the important role of the UN in addressing climate change, and fully supports the United Arab Emirates as the host of the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. The upcoming COP28, we believe, will produce major positive outcomes with President Sultan Al Jaber at the helm.

The linkages between climate and security have been discussed at many meetings of this Council, and it is evident that opinion remains divided and further in-depth discussions are in order. On the one hand, we are witnessing in developing countries lacking in climate resilience a high incidence of extreme weather events and natural disasters, decimating development gains, exacerbating resource shortages, and touching off inter-communal inter-ethnic clashes. On the other hand, when examined from the broader perspective, the connection between climate change and security risks is a very complex one, and the exact transmission mechanism between the two is not yet fully understood. Just as it is not scientific to deny the existence of a relationship between climate and security, it is, I am afraid, equally unscientific to generalize about the security implications of climate change by taking the issue out of specific contexts. What matters here is to do the right thing with the right approach.

That being the case, we are of the view that the Security Council should analyze the dynamics between climate and security by placing the issue in context, taking into account the Council's own mandate, the existing agendas, the resources and means available to the Council and country specific situations. We should be problem-oriented, identify the root causes of security risks, and come up with practical solutions that actually work. Haiti’s recent floods have exacerbated the country's preexisting humanitarian woes. There is some connection with the climate. But the underlying challenges that Haiti has have not changed, namely, gun violence and corruption in politics. Iraq is dogged by ecological challenges such as water scarcity, drought, and desertification. And that of course has some connection with climate change. But Iraq's biggest challenge is that dire consequences of foreign invasion, years of war and hostilities, including the use of depleted uranium ammunition by external forces have led to irreparable degradation of Iraq's ecosystems, and the explosive remnants of war have rendered large swathes of land unusable. Merely bring the climate change perspective to the Council's work while overlooking those underlying problems would not steer us in the right direction to find solutions, nor would it produce desired results.

Also worth considering is the question of why the socioeconomic consequences of climate extremes are different in North America and in the Pacific Islands. It is no secret that vast differences exist in the ability of different countries to address climate change. Behind and beneath this disparity is the huge difference in their levels of development. Therefore, the most conclusive way to stop climate change translating into security risks is to take the development approach, which means helping developing countries bridge the development divide and enhance their climate resilience and response capacity. In this regard, the Security Council should not become a salon for idle talk, interested only in political correctness. It should be down-to-earth and guided by its mandate, and make bona fide efforts to help developing countries in a tangible way to address security risks.

First, the UNFCCC and its Paris agreement are the most important guiding instruments for addressing climate change. The basic consensus enshrined in the Convention is that developed countries have a historical responsibility to shoulder for global climate change. It stands to reason that they take the lead in significantly reducing emissions and achieving net zero or even negative carbon emissions sooner. Unfortunately, since last year, there has been a reversal in the energy policies of some developed countries. Their fossil energy consumption and carbon emissions have increased, not decreased. These developments are disconcerting. The Council should place its role and should watch these developments very closely. They also raise the question. If climate change is deemed a potential security threat, then does the negative regressive behavior in the fulfillment of emissions reduction obligations, including unilateral withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, constitute a threat to international peace and security? Can the Council take enforcement measures under the authority of the UN Charter to redress such negative actions. This merits some in-depth contemplation. 

Second, lack of finance is the biggest bottleneck for global climate governance. Developed countries are in huge arrears on climate finance. The annual shortfall of 100 billion US dollars must be made up as soon as possible, and the new collective quantified goal for the post-2025 period be set. Last year COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh established the loss and damage fund, and developing countries are eagerly awaiting the fund’s early operationalization. The relevant UN agencies should do their part in promoting the implementation of the fund, including creating a mechanism to monitor the implementation of climate finance and to encourage developed countries to genuinely translate their political commitments to concrete actions. The Council should play its role and pronounce itself strongly in these areas. At the same time, the Security Council should play its role through tangible actions. As the first step, the Council could consider authorizing its field missions in those countries more heavily affected by climate change to collect information on the host country's annual receipts of climate finance from developed countries and to inform the Council on a regular basis. It goes without saying that the missions themselves should become benchmarks and role models for energy conservation and emissions reduction to do their part for the climate actions of host countries.

Third, green protectionism in developed countries is something we must watch out for. Under the pretext of promoting their own energy transition, certain countries have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in hefty subsidies for their manufacturing industries through various unfair bills and administrative initiatives, while setting up trade barriers against the green industries of other countries and blocking developing countries access to green technologies. These acts are a blatant violation of WTO rules, as they disrupt global green industrial and supply chains, undermine countries’ efforts to achieve sustainable development goals, and run counter to the international community's collective efforts to address climate change.

These acts have also made certain countries bombastic slogans sound hollow, anemic, and hypocritical. If this Council were to do its job properly, it must firmly reject such behavior and practice. Green protectionism is becoming a ball and chain that shackles developing countries and keeps them at the bottom rung of the global value chain. Another ball and chain that hamstrings the ability of developing countries to achieve development and maintain stability is none other than unlawful  unilateral sanctions. Many countries on the receiving end of such sanctions have a very hard time obtaining even the most basic means of livelihood and production, let alone improving their capacity to address climate change. This Council should listen to the voices of the people in the injured countries, take very seriously the climate and security risks posed by green protectionism and unlawful unilateral sanctions, and have the courage to take targeted measures to uphold equity and justice. Those points should show the direction in which the Council gets involved in climate change-related issues.

Madam President,

The ecological environment is the foundation of human survival and development. China upholds the green development vision. We believe lucid waters and lush mountains are the invaluable assets, and stay firmly on the Chinese path to modernization featuring harmonious coexistence between human beings and nature. Over the past decade, China has, with a responsible attitude, matched its commitments with actions, cutting CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 34.4%, building the world's largest carbon market, and vigorously carrying out afforestation and sand control. The achievements we have scored in ecological improvement and environmental protection have impressed the whole world. China is an active player in South-South cooperation on climate change, providing support and assistance to other developing countries, especially small island states, least developed countries, and African countries, so they can better address climate change. Our efforts are applauded and lauded by the majority of developing countries. China is ready to continue working with all parties to promote a fair and equitable global climate governance system for win-win cooperation, so that together, we can build a clean and beautiful world.

Thank you, Madam President.

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