Last Updated: Oct 29, 2021

Report of participation in climate summit in Glasgow comes amid criticism of Beijing’s latest net zero plans

China’s president, Xi Jinping, will appear at the Cop26 UN climate summit in Glasgow next week via video link, the Associated Press has reported citing China’s foreign ministry, after weeks of speculation over what role Xi might play in the meeting, which opens on Sunday. Xi has not left China since last year, when his country was first engulfed in the deadly Covid outbreak. The foreign ministry separately said on Friday that Xi would take part in this weekend’s G20 leaders’ summit in Rome via video link.

Beijing published its long-awaited national plan on greenhouse gas emissions on Thursday. The nationally determined contribution (NDC) submitted to the UN says emissions would peak by 2030 and be reduced to net zero three decades later. Activists and analysts say the document represents little progress on the previously announced ambitions of the world’s biggest carbon emitter, disappointing observers of the vital climate talks.

“There has been a lot of resistance within the system to embrace higher ambitions that would be in line with international ambitions,” Li Shuo, from Greenpeace Asia, told Reuters news agency. “If we wait until 2030 … the curve [for emission cuts] between 2030 and 2060 is so steep to the extent that some people think this is science fiction.” Xi has been facing pressure from world leaders to promise more on climate. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, asked Xi during a phone call on Tuesday to send the world a “decisive signal” on the climate emergency, the French Presidency said in a statement.

Ahead of his reported video speech at Cop26, Xi spoke to Boris Johnson on Friday. According to a Chinese read-out published on its foreign ministry website, the two leaders spoke about topics ranging from bilateral ties to sustainability. Xi said that China’s goals to achieve carbon peak and carbon neutrality would mean a “broad and profound economic and societal change,” and that will be done “step by step and [through] hard work”. He said that Beijing will “do what it says” when it comes to its green and low-carbon development.


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