The United Nations:
China will stop funding overseas coal projects, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday, ending the flow of official aid for dirty energy contributing to the climate crisis.
Xi made his announcement at the United Nations General Assembly where US President Joe Biden, seeking leadership in growing competition with China, pledged to double Washington’s contribution to countries hardest hit by the crisis. climate change.
China continues to invest in coal, reducing the impact of Xi’s engagement, but it is by far the largest funder of coal projects in developing countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh as it undertakes a global infrastructure building blitz with its Belt and Road Initiative.
Xi pledged to accelerate efforts for China, the world’s largest emitter, to become carbon neutral by 2060.
“It takes hard work and we will do our utmost to achieve these goals,” Xi said in a recorded speech.
“China will step up support to other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy and will not build new overseas coal-fired power projects,” he said.
Climate advocacy movement 350.org called Xi’s announcement “huge,” saying it could “be a game-changer” depending on when it goes into effect.
Helen Mountford, vice president for climate and economics at the World Resources Institute, said it was “a historic turning point away from the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel.”
“China’s commitment shows that the fire hose of international public funding for coal is being cut,” she said.
But she said private investors should make similar commitments. And she noted that China itself continues to develop coal, an industry with political weight in the Asian powerhouse as well as in the United States.
During a visit to China earlier this month, US climate envoy John Kerry said the addition of new coal-fired power plants “poses a significant challenge to the world’s efforts to deal with the crisis. climate “.
China put 38.4 gigawatts of new coal-fired power into service last year, more than three times what has been put into service globally.
In a letter released earlier this year, non-government groups said the state-run Bank of China was the largest funder of coal projects, pumping out $ 35 billion since the signing of the Paris climate agreement in 2015.
Biden promises more help
Support for the action has grown, with the planet breaking record after record high temperatures and witnessing devastating severe weather events linked to climate change, including fires, severe storms and flooding.
A key part of the delayed Paris agreement is to mobilize the $ 100 billion per year pledged for the countries hardest hit by global warming.
Biden, who put the environment at the top of his agenda after defeating his predecessor, climate change skeptic Donald Trump, said the United States would double its contribution.
“This will make the United States a leader in public climate finance,” Biden said.
Experts said the announcement would bring the US contribution to around $ 11.4 billion per year.
British lawmaker Alok Sharma, who will chair the so-called COP26 conference in Glasgow, welcomed Biden’s announcement and said: “We have to build on this momentum”.
Currently, two-thirds of the funding is for mitigation – reducing climate change – rather than adjusting to current and future changes, such as sea level encroachment, more intense extreme weather events. or food insecurity.
In another climate announcement to the General Assembly, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would officially ratify the Paris agreement, which it had only signed before.
The developments are rare good news on the climate front after a slew of high-profile scientific reports describing a grim future, as the world’s top polluters continue to spew greenhouse gases at alarming rates.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “encouraged” by the “important” US and Chinese announcements, but warned that much more needed to be done to tackle climate change.
Last week, Guterres warned the world was on a “catastrophic” trajectory towards 2.7 degrees Celsius warming, according to a new study by UN scientists.
That figure would shatter the temperature targets of the Paris climate agreement, which aimed for warming well below 2C and preferably capped at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by DAILYNEWSCATCH staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)