China calls for less ambitious climate targets despite skipping out on COP26 summit

COP26: Boris Johnson speaks at Glasgow summit

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Taking place in Scotland’s largest city, the COP26 summit is attended by many world leaders, excluding the world’s largest polluter – China. President Xi Jinping wrote a statement for the summit, despite not attending in person.

The Chinese leader’s written statement called on developed country leaders to “provide support to help developing countries do better” in order to tackle the climate crisis.

However, the country which is the world’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions did not make any new significant pledges to lower its environmental footprint.

Xie Zhenhua, Beijing’s climate negotiator, has since told the BBC the COP26 targets are too ambitious.

Mr Zhenhua claimed the goal to keep global warming to 1.5C would be too difficult for many countries and instead suggested a 2C target.

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“If we only focus on 1.5, we are destroying consensus and many countries would demand a reopening of the negotiations,” he said.

He said China had “already been making our biggest possible effort to address climate change”.

“So regarding the fact that China is the current largest emitter, it’s because China is at a special development stage,” the climate negotiator continued.

While the President of China did not attend the summit in person, the nation leader has not left China since 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Xi addressed the G20 in Rome by video link and made similar comments.

On Sunday night, he urged countries to “balance environmental protection and economic development, address climate change and safeguard people’s livelihood”.

“The G20 members should take the lead in promoting and applying advanced technologies, and developed countries should also earnestly fulfil their commitments to providing funds for developing countries,” he added.

Last week, China told the UN it would bring its emissions to a peak before 2030 and cut them to net zero by 2060.

The country also promised to raise total wind and solar power generation capacity to 1,200 gigawatts by 2030.

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