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Exclusive: UK and China must continue to stand together to help world meet climate commitments, says UK envoy

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Editor's Note:

At the COP15 in Kunming, Southwest China' Yunnan Province, China demonstrated a strong determination to work with other countries in protecting biodiversity, which is considered a new chapter in biodiversity conservation. The country's efforts of implementing a number of measures to protect and restore biodiversity were also widely hailed by foreign diplomats at the meeting. Global Times reporters Chen Qingqing and Zhang Hui interviewed Caroline Wilson, the British Ambassador to China, recently during the COP15, to talk about China's commitment and solutions to climate change, and potential areas where China and the UK could further strengthen cooperation in the future. As the host of COP26, the UK is also looking forward to this enhanced tie in delivering on promises on environment protection. 

GT: How would you evaluate China's new commitments in climate change and their implementation in the past year? What Chinese practices do you think can be adopted by other countries? 

Wilson: As one of the 12 mega-biodiverse countries in the world, China certainly has huge potential to provide global solutions to biodiversity loss, and has made great progress already. Over the past decade, China has established thousands of nature reserves and parks. I experienced first-hand on my bird-watching trip to Yeyahu Nature Reserve in Beijing - the second most biodiverse city among the G20 capitals where over 500 bird species live.  

However, no country can solve the biodiversity crisis on its own. International collaboration is important.

For years, the UK and China have been important partners in protecting biodiversity for all - for example, in December 2019, the UK supported a "human-wildlife coexistence" event in Jilin Province, benefiting the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park, by providing UK's expertise in protecting biodiversity.  

Biodiversity is also an increasingly important focus of UK Research and Innovation's joint portfolio with China. A bilateral program has developed sophisticated computer models to assess the potential damage of man-made climate change on biodiversity in regions of Southwest China and Southeast Asia upon which millions of livelihoods depend, with analysis ongoing in how best to mitigate the impact of climate change on species.

Since 2014, through the Forest Governance, Market and Climate Programme, we are working with a wide range of stakeholders in China to address the potential negative impacts arising from forest-related commodities such as timber, palm oil and rubber.

In Hainan, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has been working with its Chinese counterparts, Bawangling National Nature Reserve of Hainan Province, and Hainan University, since 2013 to collaborate on extensive conservation research. 

In Shanghai, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has worked in collaboration with National Nature Reserve on Chongming Island on the Spartina and Bird Habitat Optimisation Project to help create and protect wetland habitats.

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