Interview: U.S. climate advocate gives thumbs up to China's efforts to fight climate change

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-04 07:11:25|Editor: Yang Yi
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by Xinhua Writer Wang Jiangang

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- The head of a U.S. climate change group on Thursday gave the thumbs up to the efforts made by the Chinese government in dealing with climate change, while warning the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate pact would hurt the U.S. economy.

"China has a very comprehensive program to address the climate change," Ken Berlin, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Climate Reality Project, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the "2017 JCI Global Partnership Summit," sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

"Your job is to reduce the dependence on coal," he said, noting that "China is completely on the right track."

"On the world level, you are showing a good leadership," said Berlin, adding that the Chinese government is very "progressive" in its efforts to deal with the climate change, citing the example that the country has a very good five-year plan for its renewable energy development.

The JCI Global Partnership Summit is an annual event, where young people unite with leaders of business, civil society and government to explore the greatest challenges of our time and craft sustainable solutions.

While speaking highly of the efforts made by the Chinese government, Berlin criticized the Trump administration for its withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, saying that he didn't understand why Trump decided to pull out from it, doubting that it might be out of "ideological" or other reasons.

"The fossil fuel industry, the coal industry in particular, is not growing in the United States. But in the meantime, the renewable energy is growing very, very rapidly. So, if you discourage new and renewable energy, you will lose tremendous job opportunities," said Berlin.

"So, I think he (President Trump) is on the wrong track, as his decision will hurt the U.S. economy and jobs," he stressed.

Citing a Citibank report, Berlin said that "not taking action on climate change would cost the world 44 trillion U.S. dollars by 2060."

"According to the same report, if we transition to a clean energy economy, the globe would save some 1.8 trillion dollars by 2040," he said.

According to Berlin, there are over 2.6 million jobs in the United States in the solar, wind and energy efficiency sectors.

The U.S. renewable energy sector employed around 777,000 people in 2016, he said.

He told the summit that there are twice as many jobs in solar as in coal in the United States, and investment in clean energy could result in 6 million additional jobs by 2050.

The transition to a low carbon economy would provide a cumulative gain through increased GDP amounting to 19 trillion dollars by 2050.

Therefore, Berlin called on all countries to stick to the Paris Climate Change Agreement and take immediate action to support the climate pact.

People should "become involved in campaigns to support climate action," "contact your elected representatives to let them know how important climate action and the Paris Agreement are to you," "reduce your carbon footprint by switching to renewable energy, reducing transportation, and eating less meat."

What's important is that all people should "engage with climate change deniers," he said.

The Climate Reality Project is a diverse group of passionate individuals who have come together to solve the greatest challenge of our time. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore spends the majority of his time as chairman of the Project, a non-profit devoted to solving the climate crisis.