China says it’s stick­ing to its cli­mate pledges

Pledge comes af­ter Trump eased curbs on coal and oil use.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Joe McDon­ald

China promised Wed­nes­day to stick to its cli­mate com­mit­ments af­ter President Don­ald Trump eased U.S. curbs on coal and oil use, open­ing the way for Bei­jing to as­sert it­self as a leader in en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy.

China is the No. 1 emit­ter of cli­mate-chang­ing green­house gases but also the top in­vestor in so­lar, wind and other re­new­able en­ergy. It has promised to cap coal use and rein in growth of car­bon diox­ide emis­sions.

“As a re­spon­si­ble de­vel­op­ing coun­try, China’s plan, de­ter­mi­na­tion and pol­icy to tackle cli­mate change is res­o­lute,” for­eign min­istry spokesman Lu Kang said.

Bei­jing’s col­lab­o­ra­tion on cli­mate with Trump’s pre­de­ces­sor, Barack Obama, had been seen as a bright spot in a bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship with nu­mer­ous strains. But Trump has called cli­mate change a hoax cre­ated by China and promised to un­wind Obama’s mea­sures to curb global warm­ing.

Asked about Trump’s or­der at a news brief­ing, Lu didn’t men­tion the United States or Trump but said Bei­jing was com­mit­ted to car­ry­ing out its pledges un­der the Paris cli­mate agree­ment ne­go­ti­ated in 2015.

Signed by 170 coun­tries, the agree­ment calls for hold­ing global tem­per­a­ture in­creases to no more than 2 de­grees Cel­sius (3.6 de­grees Fahren­heit) in hopes of pre­vent­ing sea level rise and en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age.

All sign­ers should “ful­fill their pledges and im­ple­ment the agree­ment with pos­i­tive ac­tions,” Lu said.

“We are w illing to strengthen dia­logue and co­op­er­a­tion with the in­ter­na­tional community to ad­vance the global process of cli­mate gover­nance and pro­mote the green, low-car­bon and sus- tain­able devel­op­ment so as to build a bet­ter fu­ture for next gen­er­a­tions,” he said.

China long re­sisted bind­ing emis­sions lim­its, cit­ing its eco­nomic devel­op­ment needs. Its about-face be­gan in 2014 when President Xi Jin­ping, in a joint dec­la­ra­tion with Obama, set a 2030 dead­line for emis­sions to stop ris­ing.

De­spite the lack of a for­mal com­mit­ment, China al­ready is mak­ing faster progress than most coun­tries due to of­fi­cial ef­forts to re­duce reli- ance on steel pro­duc­tion and other heavy in­dus­try and to pro­mote tech­nol­ogy and con­sumer spend­ing.

China has spent heav­ily on so­lar, wind and hy­dro power to clean up smog- choked cities and curb surg- ing re­liance on im­ported oil and gas. Re­searchers say that means car­bon diox­ide emis­sions are likely to peak be­fore 2025, well ahead of the of­fi­cial tar­get.

China’s 2015 spend­ing of $103 bil­lion was more than dou­ble the U.S. level of $44 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the U.N. En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gram. China leads the world in wind and hy­dro gen­er­at­ing ca­pac­ity and is No. 2 be­hind Ger­many in so­lar.

Last year, Chi­nese coal con­sump­tion fell 4.7 per- cent, its third an­nual de­cline, ac­cord­ing to offi- cial data. Coal’s share of to­tal en­ergy con­sump­tion fell to 62 per­cent from 2015’s 64 per­cent.

In a re­port last week, the en­vi­ron­men­tal groups CoalS- warm, the Sierra Club and Green­peace said an un­ex­pect­edly sharp de­cline in the num­ber of new coal-fired power plants be­ing built in China and In­dia im­proved chances that cli­mate tar­gets could be met.

‘As a re­spon­si­ble de­vel­op­ing coun­try, China’s plan, de­ter­mi­na­tion and pol­icy to tackle cli­mate change is res­o­lute.’ Lu Kang For­eign min­istry spokesman

ANDY WONG / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS 2016

Chi­nese women wear masks to pro­tect them­selves from air pol­lu­tion amid dense smog in Bei­jing in De­cem­ber. China’s col­lab­o­ra­tion on cli­mate with for­mer President Barack Obama had been seen as a bright spot in the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship. But President Don­ald Trump has called cli­mate change a hoax cre­ated by China.

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