A Joint Open Letter to COP26
2021-06-11 13:03

As the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November 2021 is drawing near, we, representatives of students from the School of International Studies, Peking University of China and youth representatives of Vanuatu, held China-Vanuatu Youth Dialogue on May 12, 2021 via video link to have an in-depth exchange on climate change, discussing ways for the younger generation to contribute to tackling this challenge and jointly expressing our expectations and wishes to COP26.

After intensive discussions, we reached a consensus that both China and Vanuatu are suffering the negative impacts of climate change. Both countries attach great importance to addressing this challenge and actively take part in the global action against climate change.

In 2020, the Chinese Government officially announced that China would strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. China has committed to move from carbon peak to carbon neutrality in a much shorter time span than what might take many developed countries, and that requires extraordinarily hard efforts from China. China holds the view that "It is better to help people learn how to fish than to just give them fish." China has done its best to help developing countries build capacity against climate change through various forms of South-South cooperation. China has also made ecological cooperation a key part of Belt and Road cooperation. A number of green action initiatives have been launched, covering wide-ranging efforts in green infrastructure, green energy, green transport and green finance, to bring enduring benefits to the people of all Belt and Road partner countries.

For Vanuatu and other Pacific island countries, climate change is an issue of survival and development. The Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu explicitly obligates everyone to protect and safeguard the national resources and environment for the present and future generations. The Vanuatu National Sustainable Development Plan 2016 to 2030 identifies environment as one of the three pillars of national development and sets major goals to enhance resilience and adaptive capacity with regard to climate change and natural disasters in order to ensure a natural environment that continues to serve people’s food, cultural, economic and ecological needs.

China has long supported Vanuatu and other Pacific island countries in raising the “voice of the Pacific” in the multilateral process of addressing climate change, providing assistance within its means to Pacific island countries through South-South cooperation to help them improve their capacities in combating climate change. China supports Pacific island countries’ endeavors to transform their development mode and take a green, low-carbon and innovative way to tackle climate change fundamentally. Vanuatu supports China’s leading role in the global response to climate change and welcomes in-depth cooperation with China on climate policy, green development and disaster prevention and mitigation.

We all agree that climate change is an important issue concerning mankind’s long-term livelihood. Young people are a group of the major stakeholders in addressing climate change, a key element of future climate actions and a vibrant force for the world’s development in the years to come. In this respect, all youths around the globe, regardless of nationalities, are beneficiaries and should become advocates and doers to tackle climate challenge. This dialogue offered a valuable opportunity for young people of China and Vanuatu to exchange views and yielded advisable experience. We wish youths of all countries will conduct dialogue and communication on climate change to enhance mutual understanding and joint actions.

We firmly believe that there is only one Earth in the universe which is our shared home. Climate change is posing severe challenges to human survival and development. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has added difficulty to economic and social development to all countries. The international community needs to come up with unprecedented ambition and action to act with a sense of responsibility and unity, and work together to foster a community of life for man and nature. Therefore, we hereby extend our joint appeal to the upcoming COP26 and the international community as follows:

--We must be committed to multilateralism. We need to uphold the UN-centered international system, fully implement the objectives and principles laid out in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement and jointly build a fair and equitable system of global environmental governance for win-win cooperation. We need to increase cooperation levels, strive to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and help ensure that COP26 will achieve positive, balanced and pragmatic outcomes.

--We must be committed to green development. We should abandon development models that harm or undermine the environment. We must say no to shortsighted approaches of going after near-term development gains at the expense of the environment. We need to seize the enormous opportunity in green transition, strengthen climate policy dialogue and green development cooperation, and make sure that a sound environment is there to buttress sustainable economic and social development worldwide.

--We must be committed to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Developing countries especially small island developing states now face multiple challenges of combating COVID-19, growing the economy, and addressing climate change. Full recognition should be given to developing countries' contribution to climate action and their particular difficulties and concerns should be accommodated. Developed countries need to increase climate ambition and action. At the same time, they need to make concrete efforts to help developing countries strengthen the capacity and resilience against climate change, support them in financing, technology and capacity building, and refrain from creating green trade barriers, so as to help developing countries accelerate the transition to green and low-carbon development.

--We must be committed to the protection of a healthy, intact and sustainable ocean. Marine ecosystem is vital for all lives on Earth. Protecting our ocean and our earth is an imminent need and common aspiration of humankind. The international community should increase investment in the conservation and sustainable use of ocean and marine resources, promote both developed and developing countries’ ocean governance capacities and resources sharing to ensure the achievement of marine sustainable development goal (SDG 14) of the UN 2030 agenda.

--We must emphasize youth contribution. We need to tap the potential of and call on young people to be champions in ecological protection and climate action. We need to encourage and support youth representatives to participate in bilateral and multilateral dialogues on climate change, and help enable their involvement in environmental education, green employment and green entrepreneurship.

Young people are the future of the world. This is the law of the development of human society. No country can prosper in isolation or meet all climate and ecosystem challenges on its own. Every one has to take actions for the interest of our blue planet. We hope COP26 could listen to the appeal from the younger generation and call on all the young people to be active champions, participants and promoters of climate action, contributing our wisdom and strength to build a clean, beautiful world with common prosperity and a community with a shared future for mankind.

We agree with UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Ms. Patricia Espinosa that the pandemic should not divert world’s attention from the climate change challenge. If we get it right, we can help steer the global recovery towards a more sustainable and inclusive path. As long as all countries work together, we will overcome all challenges and leave to our descendants not just abundant material wealth, but also starry skies, green mountains and sweet flowers.

Wish the conference a complete success!

——20 Ni-Vanuatu youth representatives and 20 students of the School of International Studies of Peking University put their signatures in the letter which was sent to the Secretariat of UNFCCC, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC and Full-time President for COP26 respectively on June 2nd, 2021.