Interview: Int'l collaboration needed to keep earth habitable, says climate scientist

(Xinhua) 13:26, January 19, 2024

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- International collaboration is needed to manage the whole planet and keep it a habitable place, and China has a very important role in it, a leading scientist on global sustainability has said.

"The only way to solve the climate crisis is through collective action, we need global universal action, and that requires trust," said Johan Rockstroem, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and professor in Earth System Science at the University of Potsdam in an interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum here on Tuesday.

The expert said climate change, together with geopolitical crisis and other pressing issues, still top the risk list at the forum this year.

Noting that the sharp rise in temperature in 2023 resulted in extreme events and "the challenge is even larger than the immediate impacts," Rockstroem warned that the planet is approaching a tipping point, marked by the average temperature exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius above the 1850-1900 level.

The World Meteorological Organization on Jan. 12 officially confirmed 2023 as the warmest year since records began, edging closer toward the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels set by the Paris Agreement.

In Rockstroem's view, to "have a manageable climate future" hinges on a singular approach: the gradual elimination of fossil fuels and a concerted effort to preserve nature, ensuring the planet remains resilient, healthy, and able to absorb and buffer.

He called for global governance to address the threats to the planet and concerted action across all planetary boundaries.

In 2009, Rockstroem and other 28 scientists proposed the concept of "planetary boundaries," outlining limits to the impacts of human activities on the Earth system. The concept has since gained prominence in international policy discussions, not least at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

More cooperation and more global governance collaboration across all the nine planetary boundaries would help jointly address the challenge of climate change, the expert said.

With regard to international collaboration, China plays a very important role in tackling climate change, Rockstroem said.

"China is a leader on the transition towards the solar and wind, and also a leader towards electric mobility, basically moving away from fossil fuel-based transport," he said. "China also has a very mature agenda on ecological red lines, recognizing the value of keeping nature intact for security."

Rockstroem said that the scientific community increasingly sees that China is playing a leadership role in finding pathways toward a modern, sustainable pathway for a large economy.

Speaking of economic growth and climate sustainability, Rockstroem said, "More and more evidence shows that transitioning towards sustainability is the only pathway in the longer term for economic development." 

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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