The US is guilty of “obstructing” the global fight against emissions, China said yesterday, as it seized the climate agenda by vowing to go carbon neutral by 2060 — a target welcomed by environmentalists, despite its patchy detail.
The goals, which include a pledge to reach peak emissions in 2030, are still the most concrete yet announced by China, which is the world’s biggest polluter and accounts for one-quarter of the planet’s greenhouse gas.
The goals also open a new divergence in relations with the US, which are already pinched by squabbles over trade, technology, defense and human rights.
Speaking to the UN General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on Tuesday renewed his support for the Paris climate accord and called for a green focus as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under US President Donald Trump, the US — the world’s second-largest polluter — pulled out of the agreement, blaming China for the stalled momentum on tackling global emissions.
“This clearly … seriously obstructs the progress of reducing global emissions and promoting green, low-carbon development,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said in a statement yesterday.
“What qualifications does such a country have to criticize China,” he asked, citing the US’ hunger for plastics and its exports of waste.
In his speech to the UN, Xi set China out as a climate leader, saying that the Paris accord “outlines the minimum steps to be taken to protect the Earth, our shared homeland, and all countries must take decisive steps to honor this agreement.”
China aims to have “carbon dioxide emissions peak before 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060,” Xi said.
Welcoming China’s pledge with a post on Twitter, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen added that “a lot of work remains to be done.”
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