Chinese, French presidents reach deal on climate change

President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart Francois Hollande issued a joint statement on climate change in Beijing on Monday, vowing to promote a working program to accelerate pre-2020 efforts in mitigation, adaptation and support during the Paris climate summit.

They called for a better transparency system to build trust and confidence in the Paris pact, as well as means to review the actions and support of various parties.

France will host the climate summit in Paris (COP21) in December, which is largely expected to result in a global and binding agreement on addressing climate change.

Hollande is visiting China ahead of the summit to seek China’s support for a new climate change deal in Paris.

The two presidents reaffirmed joint efforts to push forward an ambitious and “legally binding” Paris agreement on the basis of equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

“The agreement must send out a clear signal for the world to transition to green, low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable development,” said the statement.

They stressed that developed countries should continue to offer enhanced financial, technological and capacity-building support to developing countries in the post-2020 period.

Xi and Hollande also pledged stronger cooperation in countering climate change in areas such as low-carbon transportation, renewable energy, and carbon capture and storage technologies.

“China is committed to ensuring the success of the climate conference,” Xi told Hollande in their talks on Monday afternoon.

Xi said China supported France as the host of the conference, voicing confidence that it would successfully play its role as a coordinator to facilitate a balanced and comprehensive result.

“I’m confident for the progress of the conference. Our statement has injected positive energy to the multilateral process of addressing climate change,” Xi told a press briefing after the talks.

China has made multiple climate pledges. These include a decision to launch a national carbon cap-and-trade system in 2017 to help contain emissions, establishing a 20-billion-yuan (3.1-billion-U.S.-dollar) fund to help other developing countries combat and adapt to climate change, and cutting carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 60 per cent to 65 per cent from the 2005 level by 2030.

“The French president’s China trip is part of his climate change diplomacy which aims to regain Europe’s leading role in addressing climate change after the unprosperous Copenhagen conference,” said Cui Hongjian, a specialist in China-Europe relations at the China Institute of International Studies.

During their talks, Hollande told Xi he is visiting China hoping to further the all-round strategic partnership with China.

The two countries share similar views on many global affairs, and maintain political trust and dialogue, he said.

Xi proposed both countries boost major cooperation projects in nuclear power and aeroplane manufacturing, increase cultural exchanges and jointly promote the building of new international relations.

The Chinese president welcomed France to participate in the Belt and Road initiative.

The two presidents witnessed the signing of 17 cooperation documents later on Monday, ranging from trade, finance, energy to environmental protection and cultural exchange.

Hollande’s visit came days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to China and Xi’s Britain trip from Oct. 19-23.

“The intensive China-Europe interactions show how important the Chinese market is to Europe in terms of trade and economy,” said Chen Xin, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

While stepping up trade ties with China, European leaders hope to explore China’s development blueprint amid the country’s economic slowdown, Chen said.

China also needs Europe’s support in fields such as the RMB’s inclusion in the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights basket, he added.

Hollande will also meet with other top Chinese leaders before wrapping up his two-day China trip on Tuesday.

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