International

U.S. departure from Paris deal turns spotlight on China

This combination of pictures taken on June 1, 2017 shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang at a joint press conference in Berlin.

This combination of pictures taken on June 1, 2017 shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang at a joint press conference in Berlin.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Major players, including China, EU and India, had expressed their willingness to scale up their role: Xinhua

The decision by the United States to walk out of Paris climate agreement has opened the debate about China now assuming global leadership for a greener world.

An article in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) points out that the U.S. decision to quit the Paris deal “cedes global climate action leadership to China, which Trump chided in his speech, and the European Union (EU).”

The controversial decision by the Trump administration followed a meeting in Germany between China’s Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, where the two leaders pledged to work together on a cleaner environment, including climate change.

The daily quoted Christiana Figueres, a top former United Nations climate official as saying that, “If the U.S. is not going to be with them there, shoulder to shoulder as they used to be, well then China, could be the leader”.

‘Major economic fallout’

Ms. Figueres also pointed out that China’s pursuit of emission goals would have a major economic fall-out. “China recognises that the transition to clean energy is the biggest market opportunity in this century,” she observed.

However, China’s state-media dismissed speculation about the Communist giant alone assuming the leadership mantle.

“Trump’s decision to ditch the Paris deal will leave a fairly big shoe for a single country to fill,” state run Xinhua said in a commentary.

It pointed out that major players including China, the EU, and India had expressed their willingness to scale up their role.

The nationalist tabloid Global Times asserted in an editorial that Beijing’s “attitude toward the Paris deal is not related to geopolitics”.

It added: “China is not interested in discussions about the leadership of fighting climate change. No matter how the US deals with the issue, China should focus on its own efforts to realize its promises to peak carbon emissions before 2030.”

Renewable energy

Last year China invested $88 billion in renewable energy — the highest by any country — as part of a cascading plan. By 2020, it plans to spend $361 billion on clean energy.

Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored his country’s commitment on the Paris climate agreement in January, during a keynote address at the World Economic Forum in Davos. China has pledged to slash carbon emissions by nearly half from the 2005 level by 2020. It plans to reach the peak emission target by the end of the following decade, if not earlier.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 8:42:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-departure-from-paris-deal-turns-spotlight-on-china/article18705729.ece

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