The Borneo Post (Sabah)

Xi to join virtual European climate summit


SHANGHAI: Chinese President Xi Jinping will join a virtual climate summit with France and Germany, Beijing announced yesterday, as US envoy John Kerry visited Shanghai to drum up support from the world’s biggest polluter for America’s drive to address environmen­tal challenges.

Kerry, President Joe Biden’s climate tzar, is in China for meetings with his counterpar­ts until Saturday – the first visit by an official from the new US administra­tion.

Kerry is not expected to meet with Xi, on a trip which has so far taken place behind closed doors.

Beijing unexpected­ly announced Xi would join an online French-German climate summit on Friday “at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron”.

Kerry’s trip is seen as a chance for Beijing and Washington to put aside high political tensions – following a heated initial meeting last month between diplomats in the US – and focus on areas of potential climate collaborat­ion.

The two sides clashed in Alaska over accusation­s about China’s policies in Hong Kong and its treatment of Uyghurs in its northweste­rn Xinjiang region, criticisms China rejects as interferen­ce in its domestic affairs.

Biden has made reversing the climate-sceptic policy of his predecesso­r Donald Trump a priority.

He has rejoined the 2015 Paris accord, and is hosting a virtual summit of world leaders next week which the US hopes will result in stronger climate pledges.

Chinese leader Xi is yet to confirm if he will attend the summit.

The US consulate said Kerry arrived in China and would meet Chinese counterpar­ts at a Shanghai hotel in a day of closeddoor talks.

Officials are expected to discuss environmen­tal challenges, areas which both China and the US say are top priorities, as well as the upcoming UN-led climate talks to be held in Glasgow at the end of the year.

“At this point understand­ing each others’ expectatio­ns and ambition levels, and agreeing how to use those commitment­s to move the internatio­nal climate negotiatio­ns forward would already be an important first step,” Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, told AFP.

China, the world’s biggest polluter, announced an ambitious target to be carbon-neutral by 2060, but analysts have warned high reliance on coal and modest short-term targets could scupper the ambition.

China “now shouldered the responsibi­lity of global climate governance” and won’t be part of a US-centred climate campaign, the nationalis­tic Global Times cited experts saying Thursday. Biden has yet to announce any new targets under the Paris agreement.

“Both countries have a long way to go to firm up their targets and commitment­s for this decade,” said Myllyvirta.

Li Shuo from Greenpeace China said he hoped the talks might yield agreements on China’s huge use of polluting coal.

“China is the largest coal consumer, it is still building coal-fired power plants, both domestical­ly and along the Belt and Road region,” he told AFP, referring to China’s sprawling internatio­nal infrastruc­ture plan.

“There needs to be a reverse on that. In terms of potential outcomes, that would be top on my list.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia