On Tuesday, at the United Nations General Assembly, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said with no specific details that it would not build new coal-fired power projects abroad, to add to pledges that are made for dealing with climate change.
In a video address at UN Xi said, “China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.” He also stressed China’s good intentions for peaceful international relations.
Alok Sharma, the head of COP26, welcomed this move and tweeted, “It is clear the writing is on the wall for coal power. I welcome President Xi’s commitment to stop building new coal projects abroad – a key topic of my discussions during my visit to China,” as quoted by The Hindu.
Since it will be better for the world, if developing countries could reduce their carbon emissions and carbon footprints, therefore China has been under heavy diplomatic pressure to put an end to its coal financing overseas to meet the goals of the Paris agreement. Earlier this year, similar steps were taken by South Korea and Japan. That’s why UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and US climate envoy John Kerry urged China to follow the lead of its Asian counterparts.
Chinese President Xi in his speech made no direct mention of China’s often bitter rivalry with the United States and reiterated on pledges from last year which includes that to reduce carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060. However, some experts have criticized these targets of China as they are not ambitious enough. The world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter is China and it is still heavily reliant on coal for its domestic energy needs.
US President Joe Biden without mentioning China by name in his speech said that democracy would not be defeated by authoritarianism. While referring to the network of internment camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, he said, “We all must call out and condemn the targeting and oppression of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, whether it occurs in Xinjiang or northern Ethiopia, or anywhere in the world.”
Xi also targeted the US-led Quad forum and said there was a need to “reject the practice of forming small circles or zero-sum games.”
Last week, after the alliance of the US, Australia and Britain for Indo-Pacific security, China warned of an intensified arms race in the region and raised concerns at AUKUS, which will provide Australia with the technology and capability to deploy nuclear-powered submarines.