Red Cross eyes greener relief efforts

Updated: Nov 11, 2023 By Wang Xiaodong in Nairobi, Kenya China Daily Print
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The International Committee of the Red Cross is aiming for more cooperation with its partners such as China so that its humanitarian assistance can become more environmentally friendly, according to officials from the global humanitarian organization.

As the ICRC has decided to factor climate and environmental risks in its whole operation and set a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030 compared to 2018 levels, Chinese products and technology may play a big role in helping the ICRC achieve the target, said Naheed Popat, chief for environment and climate change at the ICRC's delegation in Nairobi, Kenya.

Many carbon-friendly products procured by the ICRC for its humanitarian relief operations are from China, such as solar lamps and solar-powered cookers, which can be used in rural areas where electricity is unavailable, he said.

The organization will launch a detailed decarbonization road map to try to minimize carbon emissions in its operations, including reducing the size of its fuel-powered vehicle fleet, rolling out new energy vehicles, and adopting solar power or wind energy for electricity generators and field hospitals where applicable, he said.

"For example, in the ICRC work, a lot of times we're using diesel generators. So one of the things that we're looking to do right now is transition away from diesel to solar photovoltaics and in that regard, we're always looking for new suppliers, for panels and batteries," he said.

To reduce emissions caused by diesel generation, the ICRC is looking to solarize the top seven diesel consuming countries in its operations, including Yemen, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan, which have limited grid access, so no generators will be used in these countries eventually, he said.

"We want to develop partnerships. So if, for example, there's a supplier in China who has a particular product, they could always reach out to us for it to be field tested to see if it is applicable in a humanitarian context, if it can be rolled out with limited maintenance or become technologically applicable in that context."

In its partnership, the ICRC will also ensure its suppliers are socially responsible and have adopted proper standards to minimize environmental pollution and its impact on the climate, he said.

Daniel Gerard O'Malley, head of the ICRC Nairobi Regional Delegation, said the organization is expecting more cooperation with China so that it can better carry out its missions while reducing carbon emissions to mitigate climate change effects.

As it contributes to global humanitarian efforts with its economy and technology, China is also expected to play a more active role to ensure humanitarian law in areas of conflict, which is essential for humanitarian assistance efforts, he said.

China has close ties with many countries in Africa and with its economic influence in the region increasing, the ICRC and many countries would also like to see China as a "peace broker" in the region, O'Malley said.


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