Glasgow and the U.N. U.N. Climate Change Conference(COP26), a major diplomatic mistake for Beijing For a government that prides its self for its Pragmatism, Spends millionsHe allegedly puts great effort into creating a global image and spares no expense in doing so. Developing its soft powerIt would appear so. This is not because of the condemnation by global leaders and U.S. president Joe BidenEspecially, because suddenly, they had the power to question China’s sincerity as well as its aspirations for global leadership. Even more, COP26 couldn’t compare to a otherwise stellar year of climate action for China.
Beijing had a great start to 2021: In January, China’s State Council published a white paper on international development cooperationIncluding language on green development under Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and featuring a whole section on eco-environmental protection of partner countries. Next, Beijing is brought back from retirementXie Zhenghua, the most respected climate negotiator in China, was honored. This signaled Beijing’s willingness and ability to engage constructively with U.S. officials in climate negotiations, despite the ongoing tensions between China-U.S. The release of a Chinese journalist was also celebrated in Beijing shortly after. Green investment principlesBRI projects that were developed in consultation with international experts. Xi Jinping also made two surprising announcements at September 2021 U.N. General Assembly meeting. He committed China to To become carbon neutral by 2060Announcement of the end of Coal plants abroad funded.
However, no one seemed to be paying much attention to climate delegates who gathered in Glasgow for COP26 in November 2021. Instead, the headlines were all about Xis’s absence from the meeting. An ex-top U.S. climate negotiator referred to Xis’s decision as “the best”. COP26 is the biggest obstacle to success. Things didn’t get any better after the two-week-long negotiations ended when Alok Sharma, the president of COP26, declared he was. Totally frustratedIndia and China for easing their commitment to eliminate coal. Sharma publicly stated that Sharma and China would need to explain why they did the things they did to climate-vulnerable states.
Both the initial backlash as well as the final comments were so strong that even John Kerry-Xie Zie Zhenghua was not able to contain his anger. Surprise announcementThe air was not cleared up completely when the United States and China intensified their cooperation to combat climate change. The former President Barack Obama is perhaps the most important nail in China’s climate diplomacy coffin. In language that recalls events from more than a decade back, he declared that China’s national plan and actions were “show”. Dangerous lack of urgencyThey are also indicative of the country’s willingness and ability to maintain the status-quo.
However, China’s climate action would not be viewed through the prism of the COP26 spectacles. Because Beijing’s climate vision has now outstripped the U.N. Climate Change Conference events. This means that Beijing is actively expanding the space for climate diplomacy and promoting climate action discourses that go beyond the language and prerogatives. COP meetings.
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Expanding the Spaces for Climate Diplomacy
Actions speak louder that wordsBeijing responded to Bidens questioning about China’s global leadership position. It is clear that China intends to take the climate conversation and its action beyond the halls of high-level diplomat meetings. Beijing’s recent unprecedented climate collaboration, green recovery and green sustainable developments agreement is the most notable example. Signed with African countries at FOCAC meetingIt was in November. This was the first FOCAC meeting where climate was treated as an independent area of collaboration.
Similar to the above, Beijing announced in October 2021 an initiative on Enhancing Green and Sustainable Development CooperationDuring the October 2021 summit, ASEAN. This is not the first time that environmental issues have been given special attention at the summit. ASEAN contextThe game-changer of the moment is the main difference Either launch, or near completionA selection of major BRI infrastructure projects are located in the region.
None of these indicators mean that China is abandoning the U.N. high-level forums. It is rather indicative that Beijing is using different platforms to wield a climate diplomacy weapon, where agreements can be made both regionally and partner-specific. These collaborative initiatives are a stark contrast to the endless stalemates. Climate financing, the climate fund, and the fund for adaptation.s at COP negotiations.
A New Climate Action Language
Aligned with the politically significant vision ecological civilization ()Beijing is now embarking on a new path for climate discourse. The goal is to make climate action more than just questions about carbon emissions and coal. To promote an understanding of Unity between nature and humanity (),Beijing is now committed to tackling problems of ecology and biodiversity, as well as addressing carbon emissions. This intention was most clearly demonstrated at the U.N. Biodiversity Conference COP15, which China hosted in Oct 2021. Although the plenaries were largely virtual and only established the first stage of negotiations, the second half was scheduled for April 2022 by Xi Jinping, Xi Jinping quickly endorsed it. Unveil a biodiversity fund worth $230 millionTo support biodiversity protection in developing nations. Beijing also published its first ever COP15 report around the time of the COP15 conference. White paper on biodiversity. These are all welcome developments, especially considering that the BRI corridors are expected to overlap with at least the range of at most 265 endangered species, 1,739 key biodiversity areas or important bird areas, and 46 biodiversity hotspots.
The ecological civilization doctrine is not just about incorporating nature and biodiversity into the climate change conversation. Xis the overarching thesis, which has been meticulously formulated by a number. Research institutes and think tankThe ecological civilization is the next step in humanity’s development. It allows mankind to transcend the Industrial Revolution’s production and consumption patterns and enter a more advanced stage in development that is harmonious with nature. It is easy to see why this new ecological vision is so important in a country that is known for its propaganda and hyperboles. Xi-plomacy.
Non-Chinese commentaries can often make it seem like the vision for a shared destiny of mankind and nature as well the expanding opportunities for climate diplomacy are lost in translation. Beijing’s track record at COP meetings and its pledges are what is being judged. It is crucial to catch up with Beijing’s discursive and diplomatic forays into climate action and ecological civilization.
First, aside from the drama of COP26 there is some truth to statements that China’s approach to climate change lacks urgency. This is not limited to China’s national plans or net-zero carbon strategies, but it does extend beyond ecological civilization. This is a matter of ontological approach. Chinese commentators have been saying it for over a hundred years. It’s all in the blink of an eye. The reference is to China’s millennia old history and claims to superiority in playing the long-game. But there is no long game in the long game. Ghastly mass extinctions of speciesIt is already on the horizon. If the Chinese government wants to address biodiversity issues with regional and local partners, they must start from this premise. The time is running out.
Second, Beijing is keen to uphold principles of sovereignty, non-interference and often approaches environmental conflicts with the assertion that China respects The will of peopleRespects and adheres to all domestic legislative processes. It is not always clear who the people are or if their interests align with a vision of sustainable development and green growth. A prime example of this is the cited flagship BRI construction for a hydropower station. Batang Toru, Indonesia. One of the many controversies around the project is that it could put the livelihoods of the people. The last remaining species a rare orangutan. It is often overlooked that different groups and communities are divided on their opinions. Support the constructionWhile others Opposing it. This is only one of many instances where both the belief in the will and expectation of local communities being land protectors create an unrealistic platform for either consultation or resolution to environmental and development problems on the ground.
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This dilemma can be solved by holding Beijing accountable for its vision of unity between nature and man. This means that instead of dismissing Beijings ideology and dismissing it as empty propaganda, the language used in ecological civilization can be used to probe Chinese actors’ willingness to implement this vision. In fragile places like Batang Toru, where fragile ecosystems have been damaged, it might be a better start point than the will to the people to uphold the standard for unity between nature, man, and the earth.
Third, in addition to Beijing’s high aspirations of sharing the wisdom of ecological civilisation with the world, there are mechanisms to hold Chinese actors responsible for their overseas operations These are either not available or very limited.. There are signs that Chinese companies may soon be held to higher standards. Xiaoping, the Chinese company that owns the Xiaobang Group, was cited as having complied with higher standards at the end of November. AnnouncementNew guidelines for the BRI were developed to promote green transition in developing countries, capacity building in green or low-carbon development, as well as deepening cooperation in ecology, environment and climate governance. These guidelines are not exclusive to the BRI. Commentators were quick to point this outThis is an attempt to rebrand the BRI in order to keep it competitive against the newly-initiated. Make the World a Better Place(B3W), of the United States and Canada Global Gateway Strategy European Union. This is, perhaps, the international push that China needs to be held in check.
The past few years are a remarkable example of Beijing’s attempts to counter its critics. The latest example is the aforementioned announcement by China that it will no longer finance coal projects in other countries. For the skeptical, let’s not forget that China will no longer fund coal projects abroad. First announcedThe Belt and Road Initiative did not contain any language regarding environmental protection. Eight years later, Beijing’s global vision has a green BRI.
China is now at a new stage of climate diplomacy outreach. Climate change problems are being conceptualized in settings that go beyond the U.N. Climate Change Conference framework. Beijing must be held accountable at high-level meetings as well as on the ground. This will require more than a lofty talk about values and higher quality standards. One place that global citizens can start is to demand that Chinese policymakers, corporations, and individuals begin to implement Beijing’s vision for ecological civilization.