VIF-CICIR-CASS virtual Roundtable on “China-India Climate Change: Dynamics and the Way Forward”
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On 15 June 2022, Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) organized a virtual roundtable on China-India Climate Change: Dynamics and the Way Forward. There was a general recognition that the Sino-Indian border issue has stood in the way of greater cooperation between India and China on various issues including climate change. Despite this, there is also a recognition that India and China have a great deal of convergence when it comes to their positions on issues related to climate change. For instance, both countries strongly supported the Paris Agreement of 2015 that aims to hold global temperatures to a maximum rise of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Both countries also believe that climate change agendas should be pursued within the framework of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) keeping in mind the requirements of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR–RC). CBDR–RC is a principle within the UNFCCC that acknowledges the different capabilities and differing responsibilities of individual countries in addressing climate change. Besides, they recognize that richer nations have a far greater historical responsibility for the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. More recently, during the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the UK, India and China worked together and persuaded developed countries to agree to water down the language of the final agreement from “phasing out” of coal to “phasing down” of coal. It was observed by participants of the virtual roundtable that such collaborations between India and China on the vital issue of climate should continue. The following recommendations were made during the virtual roundtable.

I. Bilateral Level
  1. Revive India-China bilateral agreement and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on climate change: India and China signed an agreement in 2009 to coordinate their approach to climate negotiations and some domestic policies. They have also signed a MoU for cooperation on green technologies in 2010. Finally, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China in 2015, both countries issued a joint statement on climate change that called for the implementation of the aforementioned agreement and MoU. The joint statement also called for strengthening practical bilateral cooperation in areas such as clean energy technologies, energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable transportation, low-carbon urbanization, and adaptation. These agreements and MoU needs to be enhanced and implemented.
  2. VIF-CICIR-CASS annual dialogue on climate change: The possibility of organizing an annual dialogue between VIF, CICIR and CASS on the issue of climate change should be explored. The annual dialogue could enable India and China to explore specific areas for cooperation on the question of climate change including technology exchange and climate finance. It could also enable both countries to exchange their views and best practices. In the course of time, more stakeholders could be invited to join the dialogue including those from the business sectors, the private sectors, and local governments.
II. Multilateral Level
  1. Leveraging BRICS and G20 summits: India and China are key players at major international forums such as BRICS and the G20. China, as host of the 14th BRICS Summit in June 2022, should push for greater cooperation on climate change among BRICS members. Likewise, India will host the G20 Summit in 2023. As such, it should also make climate change a key agenda for talks among G20 members. Most importantly, these summits should be used to strengthen BASIC group. The BASIC group comprises of Brazil, South Africa, India and China. It was formed on 28 November 2009 against the backdrop of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) that was held from December 7-18 of that year in Copenhagen, Denmark. BASIC group has proven to be an important counterweight to developed countries during global climate change negotiations such as COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009. The BRICS and G20 summits offered an opportunity for the group to further strengthen their position and cooperation on climate change issues.
  2. Joint Proposals: India and China should prepare joint proposals during the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt from 7-18 November 2022. Both countries should work together to influence key decisions and deliberations on various climate issues including climate finance. Climate finance refers to local, national or transnational financing - drawn from public, private and alternative sources of financing - that seeks to support mitigation and adaptation actions that will address climate change. It is needed for mitigation, because large-scale investments are required to significantly reduce emissions. It is equally important for adaptation, as significant financial resources are needed to adapt to the adverse effects and reduce the impacts of a changing climate.
  3. International Solar Alliance (ISA): India and China should join hands to strengthen the International Solar Alliance (ISA) so that the deployment of solar power worldwide could be accelerated. ISA, co-founded by India and France in 2015, is a treaty based inter-governmental organization working to create a global market system to tap the benefits of solar power and promote clean energy applications. Given that China is not a member of the ISA, it is imperative that the country join the organization so that the deployment of solar power can be accelerated worldwide.

While summing up the deliberations of the webinar Amb Ashok Kantha also emphasised that unless the border issue between the two sides is resolved it cannot be business as usual. Therefore, efforts should be made to reach a viable understanding on the border problem.

Event Date 
June 15, 2022

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