EF China News

“Friends of the Paris Agreement” Maintain Momentum for UN Climate Summit and COP 25

With support from Energy Foundation China, the Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua University gathered “Friends of the Paris Agreement” for a high-level dialogue in late March. Climate champions around the world who have made major contributions to the Agreement and its implementation guidelines provided advice on what to talk at United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019 in September and how to implement the Agreement from 2020 onward. Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Representative for Climate Change Affairs and Dean of the institute; Zhao Yingmin, China’s Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment; Chen Xu, Party Secretary of Tsinghua University; and Zou Ji, President of Energy Foundation China, delivered opening speeches for the meeting that lasted one day and a half.

“The Paris Agreement is built upon concerted effort of us and other stakeholders. Everyone present is a ‘friend of the Agreement.’ We all want it to enter into force in a sound and sustainable way. The key for the next step is to bring into action the Agreement and its implementation guidelines. Later this year, the U.N. Climate Action Summit will be held to enhance national climate pledges. Today, we are gathering at this non-governmental and informal platform to share and brainstorm ideas for how to facilitate the summit, how to implement the Agreement in an all-round, efficient, and sustained manner, and thus contribute to the global green and low-carbon development with our wisdom and solutions,” said Minister Xie.


Minister Xie Zhenhua delivers his speech at the “Friends of the Paris Agreement” meeting. Tsinghua University hosted the dialogue on March 25 and 26, with support from EF China. (Photo Courtesy: Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Tsinghua University)

In his speech, Vice Minister Zhao introduced China’s progress in combatting climate change. “Green and low-carbon development is not only a global concern, but also serves as a strategic move as China builds its ecological civilization. Being proactive in tackling climate change meets China’s inherent needs for sustainable development and represents our responsibility for building a global community with a shared future for mankind. China will stay committed to deepening international climate cooperation, and resolution and efforts to advance global collaboration on climate change, regardless of any change to the current situation,” he said.


Vice Minister Zhao Yingmin delivers his speech at the “Friends of the Paris Agreement” meeting. Tsinghua University hosted the dialogue on March 25 and 26, with support from EF China. (Photo Courtesy: Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Tsinghua University)

Tsinghua University Council Chairperson Chen Xu stressed that climate change presents a big challenge facing us all. With Tsinghua’s abundant research and expertise on climate and energy, the new Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development has, under the leadership of Minister Xie, integrated resources and leveraged strengths to score breakthrough in major policy research, global climate governance, international cooperation, and training of future talents. At the Davos summit earlier this year, Tsinghua initiated a “Global Alliance of Universities on Climate.” All these efforts have been made to offer a Chinese solution to the global climate governance, she said.


Tsinghua University Council Chairperson Chen Xu delivers her speech at the “Friends of the Paris Agreement” meeting. Tsinghua University hosted the dialogue on March 25 and 26, with support from EF China. (Photo Courtesy: Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Tsinghua University)

“I’m so pleased to return to my dear alma mater, which I attended 40 years ago,” said Zou, the EF China President. “The Paris Agreement is a precious legacy of all mankind and a guarantee for a safe global climate. But it is facing a variety of serious challenges today. Hopefully, this dialogue meeting will help us sort out some key issues: first, how to maintain the momentum of climate action; second, how to initiate more exchanges and communications with policymakers; third, how to translate political momentum into market and economic processes to motivate stakeholder action; and fourth, how to explore concrete pathways for our great ambition. The answer to these questions calls for our wisdom and courage. Energy Foundation China is more than willing to make a sustained contribution to such non-governmental and informal dialogues,” Zou added.


Zou Ji, President of Energy Foundation China, speaks at the “Friends of the Paris Agreement” meeting. Tsinghua University hosted the dialogue on March 25 and 26, with support from EF China.

Participants held multiple rounds of candid and constructive dialogues, covering many major issues concerning the future of global climate governance, such as the experience of the Paris Agreement, its implementation challenges, and necessary enhanced action, as well as the U.N. Climate Summit later this year and COP 25 early next year. They called on the international community to continue to work together for a successful Climate Action Summit and smooth implementation of the Agreement. To achieve long-term goals set in the Paris Agreement and a green, low-carbon, climate-friendly, and sustainable future globally, the world needs to enhance action and support, achieve deepest level of international cooperation, and accelerate technological innovation, said the interlocutors.


Interlocutors at the “Friends of the Paris Agreement” meeting. Tsinghua University hosted the dialogue on March 25 and 26, with support from EF China. (Photo Courtesy: Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Tsinghua University)

They also agreed to use the “Friends of the Paris Agreement” as a Track II exchange platform, where more stakeholders will be invited to discuss far-reaching issues. The summary of this meeting will be submitted to the U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. The second round of the high-level dialogue is set to be held in Paris next year, with a view to offering solutions for the implementation of the Agreement.

The constellation of interlocutors included Luis Alfonso de Alba, U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit; Anne-Sophie Cerisola, Deputy Special Envoy for the Summit; Masagos Zulkifli, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources; Todd Stern, former U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change; Izabella Teixeira, Brazil’s former Minister of the Environment; Manuel Pulgar Vidal, Peru’s former Minister of State for Environment; Laurence Tubiana, France’s former Ambassador for Climate Change Negotiations; Tsakani Ngomane, South Africa’s Chief Representative for Climate Change Negotiations; Sun Jing, Special Representative of Climate Change of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China; Sun Zhen and Jiang Zhaoli, Deputy Directors General of the Climate Change Department of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China; Gao Jian, Deputy Director of the General Office of the National Development and Reform Commission; He Jiankun, Director of the Academic Committee of the Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua University; and Zhou Qian, Director of the General Office of Climate Change of the Treaty and Law Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.


A group photo of all attendees at the “Friends of the Paris Agreement” meeting. Tsinghua University hosted the dialogue on March 25 and 26, with support from EF China. (Photo Courtesy: Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Tsinghua University)

A Chinese version of this article appears on March 27, 2019, on WeChat account of the Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Tsinghua University with the headline: 'Friends of the Paris Agreement' High-level Dialogue Meeting Held in Beijing. This version was edited and condensed for clarity. 

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