Chinese President Xi Jinping announced during the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly that his country would no longer fund new coal-fired power projects abroad.
Although few details were provided on how the policy would be rolled out, the goal was clear and will significantly limit China’s funding of overseas coal projects.
“China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad,” Xi said in his pre-recorded address at the annual UN gathering.
China’s announcement follows similar pledges by South Korea and Japan earlier this year and came hours after Biden announced a plan to double up on aid to poorer nations to $11.4 billion by 2024. The funding will help those countries switch to cleaner energy and cope with the effects of global warming.
UN Chief, António Guterres: “This increased contribution from the United States will bring developed countries closer to meeting their collective commitment to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance.
“Accelerating the global phase-out of coal is the single most important step to keep the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement within reach”, Guterres underscored.
China, a supporter of coal development in several emerging economies, has been under diplomatic pressure to cut ties with coal, as the world commits to efforts to reach the Paris Climate targets.
During the General Assembly, Xi also repeated pledges from last year that China would achieve a peak in carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060.
China is the world’s largest emitter and relies heavily on the domestic use of coal. Half the coal burned in the world is burned in China, and in August this year, the country announced coal plants would need to be reopened to meet a surge in demand.
The true test, therefore, lies in whether China can lower domestic emissions and address the country’s reliance on coal for baseload power. This topic is under the spotlight moving into COP26, as nations press for detailed plans and evidence of China’s commitment.
COP26 President Alok Sharma said in an interview with Sky News’ Trevor Phillips: “What President Xi Jinping has said is that they are going to strictly restrict the use of coal in this next five-year period, from 2026 they are going to phase down.
“But we want to see the detail of that. That is what we are pressing them.
“I said to them we want to see the detailed policy around this and they – along with every other major economy in the G20 – have committed before COP26 they will come forward with ambitious plans to cut emissions,” he added.
Read President Xi Jinping’s full speech or watch it below: