Current Location:Home->Newsroom->News
Interview: China critical in tackling climate change, promoting multilateralism: WMO chief

GENEVA, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- China is playing an important role in promoting multilateralism and the global fight against climate change, the head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has told Xinhua.

"China has been an important player in promoting multilateralism, and China has been a constructive member of the United Nations (UN) family. I personally value that support. We have common challenges worldwide," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.

On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping made four proposals on the development of the UN and its role in the post-COVID era.

The UN must stand firm for justice, uphold the rule of law, promote cooperation and focus on real action, Xi said while addressing a high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UN via video link.

"When it comes to climate change we need collaboration, and China could play an important role," Taalas said.

"But we also need the technology that China has developed -- for example, solar and wind technology -- to solve the problem worldwide," the WMO secretary-general said.

The WMO, a UN agency based in Geneva, is an intergovernmental organization with 187 member states and six member territories.

Taalas said he is hoping to further boost the cooperation with China, particularly in the areas of technical expertise and satellite technology.

"Twenty years ago, China was not a major player in our field. But nowadays, China is one of the leading countries and also very much contributing to the education of experts worldwide ...," he said.

China has also developed mature satellite technology and gathers satellite data, which is made available worldwide and is highly valued, Taalas added.


In July, the WMO warned that global temperatures would continue to rise over the next five years, and may even temporarily rise to more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

"We have also seen a boost in sea level rise. It used to be 1 to 2 millimeters per year, but recently we have seen 3 to 5 millimeters per year in increase," Taalas said. "The glaciers of Greenland and Antarctica are also melting and that means that this is contributing to the sea level rise."

A UN report in September showed that concentrations of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere hit a record high this year, as the economic slowdown amid the coronavirus pandemic had little lasting effect.

"We have broken records in greenhouse gas concentrations; carbon dioxide concentrations still continue to grow," he warned. "There has been a slight slowdown because of the COVID pandemic but we are almost back to normal, similar levels to last year."

Asked about whether the 1.5-degree-Celsius goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement could still be reached, Taalas said, "There is a 24 percent probability that we will reach the lower limit of the Paris Agreement: that means 1.5 degrees."

"There is a very high chance that we would see at least some months exceeding this 1.5 degree limit in the coming five years," he said.

"There is some reason to be optimistic, but so far we are not moving to the 1.5 or 2 degrees target. We are moving towards a 3 to 5 degrees warming by the end of this century, but I am slightly optimistic. Of course, countries like China are critical in the success of this accord," he said.

He also urged countries to transform their transport systems by encouraging the use of electric vehicles and public transportation, and encouraged lifestyle changes toward a more plant-based diet.

"The good news is that we have both the technological means for that, to convert our energy systems based on renewable energies, solar, wind, hydropower, and nuclear energy, and we should get rid of gas, coal and oil," Taalas noted. Enditem