Xi Jinping: China will stop building new coal-fired power projects abroad

He also pledged to help developing countries to adopt "green and low-carbon energy".

Jean Chien Tay | September 22, 2021, 01:44 PM

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Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on Sep. 21, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged that China will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.

In a pre-recorded speech, Xi reportedly announced the plans of not building new coal-fired power projects abroad, and made commitments to "step up support" for the developing countries to adopt "green and low-carbon energy", Reuters reported.

China is the first developing country to make such a pledge and the last of world's major public financiers of overseas coal projects to do so, the director of Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center Kevin Gallagher said.

Aljazeera reported that China funded 13 per cent of coal projects outside of the country between 2013 and 2019.

China's announcement well-received

John Kerry, the Secretary of State for the U.S., reportedly referred to the announcement as a "great contribution" and a good beginning ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) that will commence on Oct. 31.

The president of the climate conference, Alok Sharma, took to Twitter to welcome Xi's "commitment to stop building new coal projects abroad", and expressed his wishes to make coal a thing of "history".

Climate group 350.org described Xi's announcement as a "huge" one and a potential "real game changer".

Meanwhile, some experts have reportedly criticised China's climate pledges as being "not ambitious enough", despite the target of peaking carb0n dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality in 2060.

According to data from Our World in Data, coal remains the largest source of energy in China, making up over 57 per cent in 2019.

China currently tops the list of annual carbon dioxide emissions globally.

According to 2018 data, China's carbon dioxide emissions was more than the combined emissions of the next three top carbon emitting countries.

The U.S. intends to ramp up its commitment to global climate action

Prior to Xi's statement, U.S. President Joe Biden announced his intention to double the country's financial commitment to help developing countries "tackle the climate crisis", according to CNN.

Biden reportedly added that his new initiative will make the U.S. the leader in terms of public climate financing, though he will have to seek approval for the move from the U.S. Congress.

The U.S. is the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, according to data in 2018.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres reportedly welcomed both countries' statements, and said that he was "encouraged" by the commitment of the world's two largest economies on climate initiatives.

According to CNN, experts have opined that unless Biden and Congress can "work together" to approve the budget bill, it will be "incredibly difficult" for the U.S. to achieve its emissions target.

The U.S. has reportedly pledged to cut its emissions to about 50 per cent to 52 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030, which would mean reducing emissions from 6,558 million tonnes (data for 2019) to about 3,000 million tonnes.

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Top image via CGTN/Youtube