China says it's tackling climate change after Biden hits Xi Jinping’s no-show at COP26

Jun Mai, South China Morning Post

Posted at Nov 07 2021 09:25 AM

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi insisted China is taking "real action" to tackle climate change following criticism from the United States.

US President Joe Biden lashed out at Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin for their failure to attend the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.

"I think it's been a big mistake, quite frankly, for China - with respect to China not showing up," Biden told a press conference.

"They've lost an ability to influence people around the world and all the people here at COP - the same way, I would argue, with regard to Russia," he said.

But Wang told his Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Albares during a virtual meeting on Friday: "In terms of international cooperation on climate change, China is not only a serious and responsible participant, it's also taking real action."

He said China has not only announced goals to reach peak emissions and carbon neutrality, but has introduced a series of policies to ensure it hits those targets, according to a readout from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In the past decade, China has eliminated 120 million kilowatts of coal power capacity - more than the total installed capacity of Great Britain, he added.

His comments came after a recent round of finger pointing between Beijing and Washington over each other's commitment on climate change.

Xi has not left China since the first Covid-19 outbreak almost two years ago. Instead, he gave a brief written statement to the COP26 conference on Monday, in which he called for cooperation to be stepped up and for a focus on concrete actions.

Biden's criticism immediately drew fire from the Chinese side, as China's ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun accused the US of conveying "empty slogans" and constantly changing its policies.

"China has been earnestly supporting #ClimateAction. We are not the one who withdrew from the #ParisAgreement," Zhang tweeted on Wednesday.

"The US however has back-pedalled its climate policies many times. Instead of blame shifting, what it should do now is to shoulder responsibility and take concrete actions."

A week before COP26 began, China issued plans for several industrial sectors to reach peak emissions by 2030, including steel, non-ferrous metals, building materials and petrochemicals.

Meanwhile, China will start cutting coal consumption from 2026 and its oil consumption is expected to reach a plateau during 2026-30. Its goal is to become carbon neutral by 2060.

During Friday's meeting, Wang described Spain as an important player in the European Union, and insisted that China and Europe are partners - rather than competitors - and shared much more in common than divides them.

Albares replied by praising China's efforts on fighting climate change, and said he will continue to support China-EU cooperation on economic recovery, climate change, trade and investment, according to the Chinese readout.

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