Confrontation to be ‘catastrophic’ for major powers, warns Xi

January 25, 2022

GENEVA: How to tackle global warming and build a more sustainable future for humankind was an overarching theme during the World Economic Forum 's Davos Agenda 2022 with leaders urging the 2020s...

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GENEVA: How to tackle global warming and build a more sustainable future for humankind was an overarching theme during the World Economic Forum (WEF)'s Davos Agenda 2022 with leaders urging the 2020s become "a decade of new beginnings."

In the opening session, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for stronger international cooperation in overcoming shared global challenges, including defeating the pandemic, revitalizing the global economy and addressing climate change.

No matter what difficulties may come our way, we must adhere to a people-centered philosophy of development, and realize the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Xi said, pledging that China will actively engage in international cooperation on the climate and jointly work for a complete transition to a greener economy and society. The Chinese president warned that confrontation between major powers could have "catastrophic consequences" in a speech to world leaders at an all-virtual Davos forum.

He touted China -- where the coronavirus first emerged -- as a rare pandemic success story and the only major economy to continue posting strong growth. "Our world today is far from the tranquil, rhetoric that stokes hatred and prejudice abound," he said, according to an official translation of the speech which was streamed online.

"Facts have shown once again that amidst the raging torrents of a global crisis, countries are not riding separately in some 190 small boats, but are rather all in a giant ship on which our shared destiny hinges," Xi said.

"Small boats may not survive a storm, but a giant ship is strong enough to brave a storm," he said. WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab thanked China for its active role in the global effort to combat common challenges including climate change, noting, "The year 2022 will provide a unique opportunity for global leaders to work jointly towards a more inclusive, more sustainable and more prosperous world." "We must unite despite the different views we hold; ultimately we belong to a single global humanity whose fate is increasingly interconnected,” Schwab said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for the 2020s to become "a decade of new beginnings" focused on peace, health and decarbonization, in his addressto business, government and civil society leaders at the forum.

He reiterated Germany's commitment to net-carbon neutrality ahead of 2050 but also acknowledged that Europe can't solve the climate crisis alone, saying "To reach net neutral is a monumental task, but one we will achieve."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, emphasized that his country would challenge the world to ditch throwaway consumerism and shift to a circular economy. "We must accept that our lifestyles are a big challenge for the climate. The throw-away culture and consumerism that have made the climate challenge even more serious. It is very essential that we move away from today's take-make-use-dispose economy and towards a circular economy," Modi said, promising that the next phase of India's growth will be "green, clean, sustainable and reliable."

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed the need for immediate attention to support climate action in developing countries, especially as global emissions are set to increase by 14 percent by 2030. "Even if all developed countries kept their promises to drastically reduce emissions by 2030, global emissions would still be too high to keep the 1.5 degree Celsius goal within reach. We need a 45 percent reduction in global emissions this decade," he told the virtual audience at the forum. "We see a clear role for businesses and investors in supporting our net-zero goal," Guterres said.

On her part, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, highlighted that trust will be essential for European citizens to embrace the European Green Deal, a set of policy initiatives with the overarching aim of making the European Union climate-neutral by 2050.

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