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China and India among SCO states urging ‘balance’ in climate approach

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SAMARKAND — Leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation called for a “balance” between reducing carbon emissions and allowing poorer states to catch up with economically developed countries in a joint statement on climate change adopted on Friday.

In the statement, the heads of some of the world’s biggest emitters – including China, India and Russia – said they unanimously recognized the negative consequences of climate change and the need for urgent action, but called for increased investment in oil and gas production and exploration.

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The group also slammed “coercive measures” to force countries into reducing emissions at a set pace, saying countries “have the right to independently set national goals in the field of climate change prevention.”

“Unilateral coercive measures violate multilateral principles, seriously undermine multilateral cooperation and collective and national efforts to address climate change, and weaken the ability of countries to address climate change,” the leaders of the SCO member states said in their joint statement.

The SCO – a Beijing-led group of states across Eurasia – was meeting in the ancient Silk Road city of Samarkand in what was Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first trip abroad since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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SCO members account for around half the global population. On Thursday, Iran signed a memorandum of understanding to become the ninth permanent SCO member.

In the statement, SCO leaders said they were calling for a “balanced approach between emissions reduction and development, supporting a fair transition” to a greener economy.

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Russia, India and China have at times all been accused in the West of not doing enough to address climate change, but argue that poorer and developing countries should be given more leeway to prioritize economic growth over climate issues.

China and Russia are aiming to reach “net zero” emissions by 2060, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaffirmed that his country was setting 2070 as its target.

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Environmental scientists say the world as a whole needs to start reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere no later than 2050 to limit the average increase in the global surface temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial levels.

The SCO pushed back against calls for a wholesale move away from polluting fossil fuels in favor of cleaner renewable energy.

“It is important … to use the common and complementary advantages of fossil fuels and clean energy sources and, in this regard, to increase investment in the exploration and production of fossil fuels,” SCO members said.

In a swipe at the West, the SCO leaders also criticized countries that tried to “use the climate agenda to introduce measures to restrict trade and investment cooperation.”

The European Union is at the forefront of Western efforts to introduce a carbon border tax.

It is proposing to tax goods imported to the bloc in proportion to the amount of CO2 emitted during their production, in order to protect EU producers from unfair competition from manufacturers not subject to the same environmental regulations.

The tariffs could hit Russia’s vital commodity exports as well as a range of manufactured goods from SCO members China, India and Pakistan. (Reporting by Reuters, Jake Cordell; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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