Opening Remarks by Ms. Beate Trankmann at the UN Policy Dialogue on Green Development

January 12, 2021

UNDP Resident Representative in China, Beate Trankmann (right) delivers opening remarks at the UN Policy Dialogue on Green Development at the UN compound in Beijing, China

Opening remarks by Beate Trankmann, UNDP Resident Representative in China

UN Policy Dialogue on Green Development

12 January 2021, Beijing


Deputy Director General Sun Zhen,

Professor He Jiankun,

Chairman Li Junfeng,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Excellencies and friends,

Good morning!

It is a pleasure for UNDP to co-organize with UNEP this UN Policy Dialogue on Green Development.

It comes at a time when policy makers in China – and around the globe - are at a crossroad. COVID-19 has laid bare the fragility of our world. It has brought home, yet again, the existential urgency of fixing our broken relationship with nature and taking immediate action to avert catastrophic climate change.

So, in recovering from the pandemic and to build resilience to future shocks, we must heed the warnings of our stressed planet. We must find ways to develop our economies and societies that respect the regenerative capacities of the Earth. Returning to our old pre-existing normal is not an option.  And there are indeed signs that momentum is building towards supporting the transition towards green, sustainable development.

Following President Xi Jinping's pledge to attain carbon neutrality by 2060, China has the potential to emerge as a leader in global decarbonisation efforts. Other countries, like Japan and South Korea, have made similar pledges, thereby creating a positive dynamic for heightened climate ambition across Asia.

On green technology, China is already at the forefront of advancing low-carbon energy supply and mobility. It has one-third of the world’s installed wind power and a quarter of its solar capacity.

It is also becoming a leader in green finance, with the biggest green bond market in the world and is setting up the foundation for what could possibly become the world's largest carbon market.

UNDP stands ready to work closely with China to accompany the transition to a low-carbon and sustainable trajectory, including by offering new tools and concepts.

In December, for example, we released our latest planetary pressures-adjusted Human Development Index that balances traditional human development calculations with the impact of CO2 emissions and the material footprint by countries.

Going forward allow me to highlight five suggestions for consideration that could help accelerate the transformation towards a green economy and sustainable recovery:

  • Re-setting the relative price of renewables and fossil fuels by eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and using taxes to disincentivize emissions will be critical to guide producers, consumers and investors to avoid high-carbon choices.
  • Moving away from investing in high-carbon technologies, which are set to become stranded assets, as energy from renewables continues to become cheaper compared to fossil fuels, thanks to rapidly improving and increasingly competitive storage and transmission options.
  • Further increasing investments in renewable energy with a view to also creating more and better paying jobs. China’s renewable energy sector already has more jobs than the coal sector.
  • To achieve a global low-carbon development path, it will also be important to avoid the relocation of emissions through financing coal power plants in other countries.
  • Climate mitigation will need to be complemented by adaptation - and nature based solutions are critical here. As the host of the COP15 on CBD, China has an opportunity to take the lead in forging international consensus on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework including its financing as the most important complement to the Paris Agreement.

Today, more than ever, fast, strong and coordinated policy action will ensure a better future.

Let me thank our prominent guests and keynote speakers, DDG Sun from MEE, Prof He, Chairman Li and all our panellists for being with us and sharing your ideas and policy insights to help cast the way forward on low carbon, green development. We very much look forward to hearing from you.

Heartfelt thanks also to UNEP as our co-organiser

I wish us all a productive exchange. Thank you!