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China and the United States: united on climate action but divided on responsibility
China and the United States might agree on the need to work together to tackle climate change, but they are still far removed from the burden that each must bear. Addressing the Earth Day Summit hosted by the United States this week, US President Joe Biden said his country is not the only big polluter and that the “world’s biggest economies” must step up. . But his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping said nations must be credible instead of constantly changing their climate policies and that they must help developing countries cope with the crisis. Chinese officials also said climate change should not be used as a geopolitical map to expand its influence and that major nations have still not provided sufficient aid to poor countries. Do you have questions on the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new curated content platform with explanations, FAQs, analysis and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. As he wrapped up the two-day summit on Friday, Biden celebrated the United States’ return to global climate leadership – a role he ceded to China’s advantage under the Donald Trump administration – and shouted at Russia while pointedly omitting any mention of China. . President Vladimir Putin has offered to work together to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Global funds to use billions of dollars in investments for climate action “Putin and I have our disagreements, but he’s talking about how you capture carbon from space,” Biden said. “The United States looks forward to working with Russia and other countries in this endeavor.” The differences between Beijing and Washington have raised questions about how far the two nations can go together on climate change. “The desire of developed countries to contribute more has been China’s steadfast stance, not one that China has decided on now. Of course, because the atmosphere between China and the United States is not good at the moment, especially as the United States is preparing at the national level a law on strategic competition on China, it has added a lot of uncertainty to the future climate cooperation between the two, ”Wei Zongyou said. , professor at the Center for American Studies at Fudan University. In a bid to show the United States is keen to consolidate its role as a climate leader, Biden told 40 leaders from six continents on Thursday that by 2030, the United States will halve emissions. greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels, as well as other measures that could affect new jobs, technologies and industries. But he said the United States accounted for less than 15% of global emissions and that other countries should participate. Biden did not name China, which was responsible for 28% of global carbon dioxide emissions. “No nation can solve this crisis on its own, as I know you all fully understand. All of us, all of us – and especially those of us who represent the world’s largest economies – must step up our efforts, ”he said. The climate summit “ may not change the forecast ” for US-China relations Xi did not offer new concrete commitments, saying China will strictly control and limit coal-fired power plants over the years. next five years. He did not refer directly to the United States in his speech, but added that climate policies should be consistent – a remark seen as going against the previous Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the United States. Paris climate agreement. “In this process, we need to hold hands, not point fingers; we must maintain continuity and not easily reverse the course; and we must honor our commitments, not go back on our promises, ”he said. He said there should be different responsibilities between nations and increased aid to developing countries. “Developed countries need to increase their ambition and action on the climate. At the same time, they must make concrete efforts to help developing countries build their capacities and resilience in the face of climate change, support them in finance, technology and capacity building and refrain from creating barriers. trade, to help developing countries accelerate the transition to green and low-carbon development, ”he said. Chinese officials have defended Xi’s lack of concrete promises. “We are at a different stage of development than the United States and Europe,” said Xie Zhenhua, China’s special envoy for climate change. He said the 30 years China needed to achieve carbon neutrality was already shorter than the 40 to 60 years the United States and European countries needed. China is committed to meeting its climate goals despite its “immense difficulties” to restructure its economy, he added. Xie said the 2009 target for rich countries to provide $ 100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries cope with climate change had not been met. In an apparent blow to the United States, Ma Zhaoxu, deputy foreign minister, said Xi’s presence showed China’s leadership and commitment to climate change. “China is never engaged in geopolitical efforts and has no interest in playing the climate card. Climate change should not be used as a chip for geopolitical struggle or an excuse to attack others, or to erect trade barriers, ”he said. Xie said Beijing and Washington have resumed climate dialogue, including several rounds of video conferences with U.S. Presidential Special Climate Envoy John Kerry since February, and a joint task force on change climate could be implemented in the near future. Xie added that China and the United States have agreed to unveil their plans to achieve carbon neutrality ahead of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow in November. Ren Xiao, director of the Center for Chinese Foreign Policy at Shanghai Fudan University, said divisions between China and the United States – the world’s two biggest emitters – over issues such as the climate are hurting their capacity for cooperation against climate change. “The policies of the Chinese side have been more consistent, but the United States has had a greater back and forth in their reversals, so now it depends more on the will of the United States and taking concrete action.” , did he declare. China and the United States should “use the UN to build a global consensus on climate change” Ren said that while China has not made new climate promises, it has made previous commitments. “Right now the problem is that the United States is not doing enough,” he said. “China’s current climate targets are not low and it would be good if China could complete them.” Su Wei, deputy secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission, said China is working on a plan to achieve peak carbon use by 2030, including restructuring of the coal sectors, petrochemicals, electricity, steel, construction, transport and agriculture. But Su said continued dependence on coal in the years to come was “inevitable” because the country needed coal for stable electricity. “We need a stable supply of electricity and there is no other choice. We will need coal in the near future, but we will increase the percentage of renewable energy, ”he said. Additional reporting by Mark Magnier Have the Paris climate targets been met while the rich are still spending? The richest 1% in the world produces more shows than the poorest 50% app. Copyright 2021.