In a rare address to the UN General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday made a major new climate commitment on behalf of the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
China will not build any new coal-fired power projects abroad, Xi said in a pre-recorded speech. The vow marks a shift in policy around its sprawling Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, which had already begun to draw down its coal initiatives. China will also increase financial support for green and low-carbon energy projects in other developing countries, he said. UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who had appealed to world leaders earlier in the day to show solidarity and act on the climate crisis, hailed China’s announcement alongside a US commitment to increase climate financing for developing countries.
“I am encouraged by the important announcements made today at the General Assembly by the leaders of the world’s two largest economies regarding their commitment to climate action,” he said. “I welcome President Biden’s announcement that the United States of America will significantly increase its international climate finance to approximately US$11.4 billion a year. This increased contribution from the United States will bring developed countries closer to meeting their collective commitment to mobilize US$100 billion a year in climate finance.”
“I also welcome the announcement made by President Xi that China will end all financing of coal fired power plants abroad and redirect its support to green and low carbon energy. 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.” In his earlier speech to the assembly, US President Joe Biden had announced he would work with Congress to double again the United States’ financial commitment to support developing nations. Biden pledged in April the US would increase its contribution to global climate financing to $5.7 billion per year, putting his new commitment over $11 billion per year.