Empowering Chinese Youth at COP26
November 29, 2021
About the author:
Bao Rong, Master of Environment Management at Yale School of the Environment, and Co-Founder of the non-profit organization 2030 CLIMATE+ (2030 气 候 +) and Host of Let's TalC ( 大声谈 ) podcast
Walker Darke, Consultant at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and Ph.D Student at Fudan University
Walker Darke: Why is Climate Change important to you?
I’m really privileged to be an observer at the COP26 negotiations, as part of Yale University’s delegation. For my master’s degree at Yale School of the Environment, I specialize in Environmental Policy Analysis and Climate Change Science and Solutions. I’m particularly interested in global environmental governance and international climate policy from a comparative perspective. Therefore, coming to COP26 is a great opportunity for me to align my academic studies with real-world climate discussions.
Back home in China, climate change is a growing topic of discussion. However, there is little media targeted towards young people about climate solutions. That’s why I and a few friends passionate about climate change started a Chinese non-profit organization and a podcast, Let’s TalC, to talk about solutions, not just problems, that we as individuals and as Chinese youth can do to tackle climate change.
We interview guests from across corporate, government, academia, and civil society to share good practices in reducing carbon footprints, local and national climate mitigation strategies as well as wider climate problems facing the developing world. This time at COP26, we are hosting a roundtable discussion as a side event at the China Corporate Pavilion. We hope to report on the conference by bringing frontline news from Glasgow to our listeners in China while delivering domestic voices to the international stage. We are immensely proud and grateful that our podcast has been awarded the 2021 Climate Innovation Grant by Yale Center for Business and the Environment.
Walker Darke: What are your key observations at COP26?
Youth empowerment is a massive driver towards some of the positive outcomes we have seen at COP26. Young people will be the most impacted by climate change and have a lot to offer in providing insights and sharing policy objectives towards long-term thinking. It is a positive step that governments at local, regional, and national levels are engaging more with young people to support climate solutions. I hope that this becomes the norm across climate policy decision-making.
On a more technical level, climate finance has been a really important topic of discussion at COP26. Developed countries need to be doing far more in providing financial support and technology transfer. Stronger recognition of the need to attain quality of life in developing countries requires a careful balancing of priorities and climate targets.
Finally, there has already been loss and damage of lives, livelihoods, and infrastructure, due to climate change. And the number is still on the rise. Adaptation funds for the development of resilient communities and infrastructure must be at the forefront of discussions. Good practice and a common understanding of climate-resilient solutions from all parts of the world should be embraced.
Walker Darke: What’s it like being Chinese at COP26?
I met with delegates from all over the world, and many of them said to me, “There are not many Chinese faces at COP26.” Many Western media reports have also said that China is not present at COP26. I think this is a misunderstanding. China’s national delegation is similar to that of many other nations. Chinese experts are in attendance to contribute to the conference’s critical issues including climate finance, technology transfer, and natural resource management.
Meanwhile, Chinese youth are making their voice heard. More and more Chinese youth are contributing to the international pool of voices to try to bridge the gap between a lack of communication between perspectives from inside and outside China. I’m proud and honored to be a part of this critical international dialogue on such important issues as climate change.
Though I cannot represent the whole population, I care about the health of people and our planet like many other Chinese people do. I am here to contribute a voice as an ordinary Chinese citizen, to deliver my point of view to the international conversation, to show the climate efforts I’ve witnessed in my country and bring international perspectives back to China: A bridge between geographic spheres.
Walker Darke: If you had one minute in front of World Leaders at COP26, what would you say?
My name in Chinese is Bao Rong 包瑢, homophonic to包容, a Chinese phrase meaning open-minded and inclusive. Climate problems are non-exclusive, impacting each country and every individual. Therefore, dialogues around climate should be inclusive, allowing diverse voices to be heard. Only with an open mind can we be understanding of each other and open to opportunities for solutions. This is my hope for future conversations and a lifelong philosophy I wish to sustain.
This article is from the November issue of TI Observer (TIO), which is a monthly publication devoted to bringing China and the rest of the world closer together by facilitating mutual understanding and promoting exchanges of views. If you are interested in knowing more about the November issue, please click here:
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