History has proved that globalization is an irreversible trend. The technological revolution is profoundly reshaping the world’s socio-economic development and binding communities in a “global village”.

However, while globalization has brought huge economic benefits to the world, by improving the distribution of production factors such as technology & capital, the ever-worsening climate crisis necessitates all countries to work out new solutions to curb the temperature rise and provide better environmental governance.

Although global energy consumption dropped by 4 per cent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to lower carbon emissions, the trend of growing CO2 emissions remains unchanged.

Global warming is having huge impacts worldwide. Extreme weather events are increasingly affecting human society. The significance of a united response to climate change and natural disasters was realized long ago, as evidenced by the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2016.

But the concerted efforts to combat climate change have encountered major setbacks over the past few years due to the US withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, and the consequent political and economic turbulences. It is high time all countries once again rallied together to fight against climate change.

The globalization of trade has pushed countries to open their doors wider and give their comparative advantages full play, so as to gain more economic benefits. It has also facilitated the flow and distribution of production factors such as technology, capital and information.

Developed countries, with their giant multinationals, occupy the medium and higher-end of the global value chain, while developing countries are mainly at the lower end doing the manufacturing, assembling and processing. Therefore, developed nations benefit the most and play a dominant role in global trade.

Developing countries are being forced to bear the pressure for reducing emissions transferred from developed nations due to their lower status in the global industrial chain. While the population in the developed nations is comparatively small, they emit one-third of the total CO2 emissions.

Different groups might disagree on globalization but they should agree that the relationship between globalization and the fight against climate change should be mutually beneficial.

Climate change and extreme weather events are an existential threat to all. Every country has to play its part in the global fight against climate change.

All countries should take advantage of globalization to support the global response to climate change. Global trade has brought human beings together as an inseparable whole and helped build the consensus of a community with a shared future for humankind.

Trade globalization offers a platform for spreading and sharing know-how, which can boost countries’ research and innovation in energy conservation and emissions reduction technologies.

Developed nations should take the lead in exploring and sharing new technologies, and developing countries should proactively integrate into global trade and strive for green development while pursuing economic growth.

Therefore, addressing climate change and realizing green development require more opening-up and collaboration, not less.

All countries’ carbon emissions and economic activities contribute to climate change and carbon emissions are not bound by borders. In recent years, some countries have suffered huge losses because of rising sea levels and extreme weather events caused by climate change.

International organizations such as the United Nations have taken steps to enhance global cooperation in the fight against climate change. However, a recent UN report exposes the huge gap between what has been achieved and what needs to be achieved.

Because of protectionism and the disparity in economic development, there is a remarkable gap in realizing emissions reductions through multilateral cooperation. Besides, in the quest for rapid urbanization, developing nations are obliged to balance environmental protection and economic growth. So developed nations should help developing nations to grow in a sustainable way.

The world economy has expanded rapidly over the past few decades thanks to the deepened international division of labour

Yet, protectionism has been on the rise during the same period while the risk of anti-globalization is accumulating.

These are hindering global cooperation in the fight against climate change, as well as China’s shift to green economic growth. By aiming for carbon neutrality before 2060 and a green Belt & Road Initiative, China is set to make bigger contributions to the global response to climate change.

Just as trade globalization optimizes resource allocation worldwide and increases the benefits for all participants through the division of labor, the global response to climate change optimizes the allocation of clean resources around the world.

Despite China’s efforts to promote clean energy in recent years, the consumption of clean energy accounts for only 25 percent of its total energy use. If the current system of the international division of labor is impaired, the energy consumption and energy structure of different countries will change and could lead to greater reliance on domestic resources.

In this case, the international dialogue and cooperation on climate change will decrease, while as a global issue, climate change should be addressed by all members of the international community.

Although different countries and regions have their own economic and political interests, global collaboration and coordination is vital in the fight against climate change. In recent years, the conflicts inside the developed world have accumulated, leading to a rising anti-globalization sentiment. The anti-globalization trend in trade has already harmed the international division of labor system and impeded the global dialogue and coordination in response to climate change.

Nevertheless, the globalization of climate action is an inevitable trend and lays the foundation for international dialogue and collaboration.

As a major participant in global trade and a promoter of trade globalization, China should advocate for global cooperation in the response against climate change & boost coordinated climate action through trade globalization.

Author: Lin Boqiang, Director of China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University. The author contributed this article to China Watch.