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UChicago-PKU Joint Forum 2022 kicks off, with focus on climate and energy challenge
Oct 14, 2022
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Peking University, October 14, 2022: Themed “Addressing the Climate and Energy Challenge,” the UChicago-PKU Joint Forum 2022 opened on October 13 (Beijing Time) with much excitement and fanfare. The forum, a highly anticipated collaboration by two of the world’s leading universities, has been launched by the University of Chicago and Peking University simultaneously in both countries with hundreds of participants joining virtually and across the globe.
Remarks by PKU President Gong Qihuang 

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President of UChicago Paul Alivisatos 

Executive Vice President Juan de Pablo of UChicago officially opened the joint forum, followed by remarks by the presidents of both universities, Paul Alivisatos of the UChicago and Gong Qihuang of PKU. Consul General Zhao Jian, a senior Chinese diplomat in Chicago, also expressed his appreciation for the significant collaboration, calling it a positive and welcome step in today’s troubled climate of Sino-U.S. relations.

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 Consul General Zhao Jian 

“Is there a path forward on climate diplomacy?” This was the question posted boldly at the Fireside Chat, the spotlight of the opening event, which featured two senior climate diplomats: Jonathan Pershing, from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Zou Ji, the CEO & president of the China Energy Foundation. The two experts have served their respective governments in high-level policy-making capacities—as an advisor to the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and as a key negotiation team member leading up to the Paris Agreement respectively.  

As China and the U.S. attempt to work through a range of other challenging issues, there are serious concerns over whether the bilateral cooperation will continue on the climate front. Will China and the United States put aside their differences and continue to work together to lead the world in climate diplomacy? What role could a new clean energy ‘arms race’ play in impeding or inciting climate progress internationally? The cordial yet heated Fireside Chat was masterfully moderated by Lisa Friedman, the climate policy reporter of the New York Times who has covered ten international climate talks and chased climate-related stories around the world.  

All speakers lauded the significant opportunity the joint forum has presented and expressed their sincere gratitude to both universities for the much-needed platform for unofficial dialogues on the critical challenge we are all confronting.  Mr. Pershing expressed his optimism for better U.S.-China collaboration while his friend and counterpart, Mr. Zou, praised the level of trust he has valued for his American negotiation team colleagues.  

In addition to the global online audience of the opening event, a live “watch party” was also staged on the UChicago campus. Students and faculty members filled the David Rubenstein Forum at UChicago to watch the opening of the forum and the lively Fireside Chat on climate diplomacy. Many looked forward to returning to the future panels that will run in the course of the next 3 weeks, with a wide range of topics including Environmental Regulations, Humanities, Corporate Engagement, Human Health, Clean Energy Technologies, and Climate Ecosystems.

While the task of tackling climate and energy issues is no easy undertaking, even by the standard of the world’s finest research institutes, the unique platform that brings the two sides together has certainly erased geographic barriers and time differences.  

Built upon the signature symposiums of each university, U.S.-China Forum (of UChicago) and Beijing Forum (of PKU) respectively, the joint forum on climate and energy challenges has marked the latest milestone of the long partnership between the two universities. It has also coincided with the inauguration of Beijing Forum Global, an extension of the Beijing Forum that takes place outside China. 

Edited by: Meng Bin
Source: Office of International Relations, Peking University