Chinese President Xi Jinping called on developed countries to “provide support to help developing countries cope better” with the climate crisis, in a written statement to the Cop26 climate conference that makes no new commitments significant.
The Chinese leader also urged all parties to take stronger action to “jointly address the climate challenge,” and said his country “will accelerate the green and low-carbon energy transition, vigorously develop renewable energy, and plan and would build large wind turbines and photovoltaics. power stations”.
China is the world’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, making it a key player in Cop26, the latest round of talks aimed at stepping up the fight against global warming, which began on Sunday. Despite this, Xi, who has not left China since 2020 amid the Covid pandemic, was not expected to attend the conference in person.
He was so far the only world leader to deliver written addresses at the conference, although another important no-show – Russian Vladimir Putin – is expected to video message a United Nations conference on forestry and land use.
“We have been very clear as hosts that we invite everyone to participate, but it will be in person,” British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward said last week.
Xi’s message to Cop26 echoes his speech at the G20 summit in Rome this weekend, which he participated in via video link. On Sunday evening, he spoke at length about the climate crisis to those in attendance, urging countries to “balance environmental protection with economic development, tackle climate change and protect people’s livelihoods”, and stating that “major economies should strengthen cooperation in this regard”.
“G20 members should take the lead in promoting and applying advanced technologies, and developed countries should also seriously honor their commitments to provide funds to developing countries,” he added.
In updated pledges, China confirmed to the UN last week that it would peak its emissions by 2030 and reduce them to net zero by 2060. It also pledged to increase total capacity wind and solar power generation to 1,200 gigawatts by 2030 in order to meet its targets.
However, climate watchers were hoping for new commitments to cap energy use and an earlier start to reducing coal use, which is currently expected to begin in 2026, adding to the pressure on China from other world leaders to promise more.
Last Tuesday, Macron asked Xi in a phone call to send the world a “decisive signal” about the climate emergency, according to the French presidency.
Xi also spoke with Boris Johnson on Friday. A Chinese government statement said the two leaders discussed topics ranging from bilateral ties to sustainability.
Xi said Beijing “will do as it says” when it comes to its green, low-carbon development. The statement added that it said that China’s goals would mean “broad and profound economic and societal change”, and that it would be “step by step and [through] hard work “.
Climate analysts quoted by Reuters news agency said the latest deal could indicate the world’s largest CO2 producer “has already decided that he has no more concessions to offer at the UN climate summit Cop26 in Scotland after three major commitments since last year”.
But Qin Yan, senior analyst at Refinitiv Financial Analysis, said the domestic situation in China should not be ignored to understand Xi’s decision to deliver the speech in written form.
“The complicated domestic politics ahead of the Communist Party’s Sixth Plenum November 8-11 in Beijing is definitely the center of Xi’s attention. It is crucial for him to pursue a third term at the congress next fall. And the current energy crisis in China is also complicating climate policy, ”Qin said.
She added that the choice of the written statement was “also to show that China’s senior leaders care about the UN climate talks, but that it is not its top priority.”
She added: “It seems that China prefers to leave more room for negotiations in bilateral talks rather than showing all the cards in plenary. Look at what the EU and the US just did bilaterally about Trump-era tariffs on steel and aluminum this weekend. “