Remarks by Ms. Beate Trankmann at the launch of the report: Paving the way for low-carbon development globally and along the Belt and Road

April 27, 2021

UNDP Resident Representative in China Beate Trankmann delivers opening remarks at the report launch


尊敬的湖州市政府 王鋼 市長,

尊敬的浙江省政府 能源局 周衛兵局長,

尊敬的錢治民 董事長,  馬蔚華 行長 ,張天任董事長,

Dear Ocatavian Stamate Counsellor at the EU Delegation,

女士們, 先生們, 各位來賓,

大家早上好, 我很感謝大家來參加今天的報告發佈會!

This report entitled ‘Paving the Way for Low-carbon Development Globally and along the Belt and Road’ comes at an opportune time – coinciding with the release of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan. It is also situated against multiple important backdrops: the climate emergency coupled with the biodiversity crisis and the global recovery from COVID-19, which has set back progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Those goals – which aim to end poverty and protect the planet – must be met, for life on earth to go on.

COVID-19 has shown how broken our relationship with nature is. Yet, the pandemic pales in comparison with the worst effects of climate change. By the end of this century, we may cause 3-5 degrees of warming – double or triple the 1.5 degree limit under the Paris agreement. Already, heatwaves are melting the permafrost potentially unleashing other deadly diseases, with anthrax re-emerging in Siberia in recent years. By 2050, melting ice and rising seas could displace as many as one billion people, with hundreds of cities left under water, including Shanghai’s Bund and Pudong area.

Decisive broad-based international action towards decarbonizing our economies today is critical to prevent this. China’s pledge to peak carbon emissions before 2030 and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2060 are crucial commitments that can catalyze low-carbon development, at home and abroad.

This report sets out why it is in China’s interest to support low-carbon development globally and along the Belt and Road. It also offers concrete steps for how this can be done including by leveraging green technologies and building on the expertise that China has in these areas. It provides three key pathways to facilitate low-carbon development in China and globally: firstly, boosting innovation, development and transfers of clean energy; secondly, channeling investment and funding towards low-carbon projects; and thirdly, strengthening human resource and institutional capacities.

The report also analyses the ‘tipping point’ reached in 2020, when for the first time the cost of electricity generation from renewables over the full asset lifecycle became cheaper than that of fossil fuels. To bring out this cost advantage, the report suggests new financing standards and incentives for green projects. This is critical since currently up to four coal-fired power plants continue to be built in the developing world every week. It also recommends improving energy flexibility, to overcome the volatility of renewable sources and ensure that clean energy technologies are deployed at the scale needed for the low carbon transition.

Recently, there have been positive signals that international attention to both the climate emergency and low-carbon development are gaining renewed momentum, despite the economic pressure caused by the pandemic. Along with China’s latest commitments, Japan and South Korea have pledged to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 while President Biden has committed the United States at last week’s Leaders Summit to halve emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

2021 is a “Super Year” for global low-carbon development with the upcoming Biodiversity COP  to be held in Kunming as well as the Glasgow Climate COP. It is my hope that this year will mark a new beginning in the global mission to fight climate change, one in which China has the opportunity to play a critical role by advancing decarbonization, both domestically and in its international cooperation.

At UNDP, we have cooperated with the Government of China on energy efficiency projects for more than 20 years. Going forward, we stand ready to continue working with our Chinese partners on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - with low carbon development to address the global climate emergency a top priority for our partnership. As the world’s largest development agency, we offer our global expertise and ability to bring together stakeholders – including the government, business, NGOs, academia and others – as  demonstrated by the panels of today’s event.

I would like to thank CCIEE for their longstanding collaboration with UNDP, as well as the government of Zhejiang Province, Huzhou City, and Changxing County for the warm reception and their effective collaboration to make this launch possible. I am impressed by the cutting-edge low-carbon technologies and the pace of green development here in the beautiful city of Huzhou.

I would also like to thank our guests and panelists for being with us and sharing your ideas and policy insights to explore the way forward on low-carbon development. We very much look forward to hearing from you. Working together, across countries and across society, I believe a low-carbon future is possible. As the Chinese idiom goes, tong2 zhou1 gong4 ji4 (同舟共济).

We must heed the warnings of our over-stressed world. If we act now to curb emissions and help other countries to develop responsibly, we can save our planet for future generations.

Thank you!