Interview: Everyone benefits when China and the U.S. work together: Aussie former climate change negotiator

(Xinhua) 13:36, April 13, 2021

CANBERRA, April 13 (Xinhua) -- As two big countries, China and the United States should work together so that the entire world could benefit, said an Australian scholar in an interview with Xinhua ahead of a virtual summit on climate change slated for April 22-23.

Richie Merzian, a former Australian government negotiator to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, is the director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Australia Institute, and on the Advisory Committee for the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University.

Talking about the possible talks between China and the United States, Merzian expected to see positive outcome.

"It's only because China and the U.S. came together in 2015 that we had a Paris agreement," he said. "That is how important both those countries are to global efforts."

"Now we seem to have the same leadership in charge of the negotiations," he added. "You have John Kerry, who is the Special Envoy for Climate of (U.S.) President (Joe) Biden, and you have Xie Zhenhua (China's special envoy for climate change affairs), who is the representative for China. Both of them were in charge of the negotiations six years ago."

He said it was in the interest of China and the United States to address climate change, both of whom suffered consequences such as increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events.

Climate change is also a problem that Australia should cope with. "There is more urgency than ever in Australia," said Merzian.

In January, a study published by a team from the Australian National University and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes warned that bushfires could become more severe in Australia as a result of climate change.

The 2019/20 bushfire season saw more than 30 people killed directly and another estimated 445 deaths linked to smoke inhalation.

In March, heavy rainfall caused flooding across the Australian state of New South Wales, which officials described as a "one-in-50-year event." Merzian said it was also "because of, in part, climate change."

"We know that many other countries have also suffered," he said. "The best way...is for everyone to cooperate and come together on a global solution."

He wished to see the priority level of climate change lifted, "and we are going to see that when there is the G20 and the big UN climate conference at the end of the year," he said.

Looking into the climate change summit on April 22-23, to which China has been invited as well as Australia, Merzian said there would be the first formal opportunity for the U.S. President Joe Biden to put forward the new climate plans of the United States. "We're expecting an ambitious target for 2030," he said.

He added that China has an ambitious target to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060 and he would like to see more policies in the short term, which "is what's required from everyone, including Australia."

The scholar noted that countries could also benefit from new economy to be created in climate change mitigation efforts. "Those are the green technologies that China has been doing so well, manufacturing and shipping out to the world and also implementing domestically," he said.

"So really, everyone benefits when China and the U.S. can work together." 

(Web editor: Shi Xi, Liang Jun)


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