COP26 and China’s Global Climate Agenda
In 1990, China’s greenhouse gas emissions were less than a quarter of developing country emissions. In 2019, almost 3 decades later, China’s annual emissions exceeded those of all developed countries combined. In per capita terms, however, China’s carbon emissions are considerably less than the US and other developed countries. China is under growing global pressure to take steps to reduce its emissions. Last year at the UN General Assembly, Xi Jinping pledged “to peak [China’s] carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.” At this year’s UNGA meeting, Xi said China would “not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.” On October 31st the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP26, will be held in Glasgow, Scotland. Will Xi Jinping make additional pledges? How should we evaluate China’s commitments so far, and why does Beijing seek to be a global leader on climate change?
Bonnie Glaser speaks with Dr. Joanna Lewis about China’s prospects at COP26 and the country’s broader climate agenda. Dr. Joanna Lewis is an Associate Professor and Director of the Science, Technology, and International Affairs Program at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.