Sat, 23 Oct 2021

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- World leaders on Tuesday pledged to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change on the first day of the general debate of the 76th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

In his statement delivered via video at the general debate, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the pressing priority in fighting COVID-19 is to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines globally. He said China will strive to provide a total of 2 billion doses of vaccines to the world by the end of this year.

In addition to donating 100 million U.S. dollars to COVAX, China will donate 100 million additional doses of vaccines to other developing countries this year, he said.

On climate change, he said China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.

"China will strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. This requires tremendous hard work, and we will make every effort to meet these goals," he said.

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, president of the Maldives, said COVID-19 will persist as long as it is not defeated everywhere. Vaccinating the world as soon as possible is the way to overcome. Vaccine equity is of paramount importance in this regard.

The difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees of global warming is a "death sentence" for the Maldives, he said.

One overarching fact remains. The state of environmental ruin small-island states endure now will, without doubt, catch up with bigger nations sooner than later. There is no guarantee of survival for any one nation in a world where the Maldives cease to exist, he warned.

Addressing the climate emergency requires a break from the lackluster business-as-usual practices that currently dominate the global climate change regime. It requires countries to adopt more stringent measures to halt their emissions. It needs the world's wealthy nations to help smaller nations receive support in capacity building, technology transfers and financial resources to ramp up their defenses in the climate fight. It also requires countries to give up their addiction to fossil fuels and adopt cleaner, smarter technologies for energy use, he said.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev, president of Uzbekistan, said his country pays special attention to combatting climate change, protecting the environment and biodiversity.

"This is our noble human duty not only for today, but also before the future generations," he said. "We are determined to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. We are taking concrete steps to move toward renewable energy sources. In particular, it is envisaged to double the energy efficiency of our economy by 2030, increase the share of renewable energy by 25 percent and develop environmentally clean transport."

Uzbekistan intends to put forward an initiative in the General Assembly to develop a Global Environment Charter aimed at laying the foundation of a new environmental policy of the United Nations, he said.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said that to end this pandemic, the solution has to be global. For a global response to succeed, there is a need to ensure equitable access to effective remedies.

Global action is also needed in order to be better prepared for future pandemics, he said. "It is high time to take concrete steps to improve our common health security beyond the current challenges."

He called on countries to use the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, to put themselves on a sustainable course.

"We need more ambitious emission reduction plans well ahead of the meeting in Glasgow. And we must speed up the ongoing transition away from fossil fuels. To succeed, we need adequate climate financing. As a global community, we have to increase the quality, quantity and accessibility of climate finance, in particular to the least developed countries and the small-island developing states."

Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado Quesada said his country advocates for COVID-19 vaccines to be available to all the world's population as a global public good.

"Today it is necessary that, through effective multilateralism, we manage to make COVAX a concrete solution. In that sense, I request the G20's support to make this a reality," he said.

The shortage of vaccines and the passing of time are the breeding ground for more pain, deaths, and the surge of new variants, he warned.

On climate change, he said that ironically, the countries that have low carbon emissions, such as the island states, are most affected by climate emergencies.

"The reality of an interconnected planet must make us understand that today the interests of the most disadvantaged is in the interests of all; to realize that the best way to be selfish is to be supportive and generous; that accumulating money, knowledge, or health deprives the world of better conditions for all humankind," he said.

Countries must be ambitious in the objectives for the Glasgow conference, which is imperative for the survival of humankind, he added.

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