Chinese premier Xi Jinping has urged world leaders not to abandon the historic Paris climate change agreement in a high profile speech today to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
In an address that stressed the importance of world trade for delivering economic growth and stability, President Xi said it is vital countries stick to their commitments for tackling climate change for the sake of future generations.
He described the Paris Agreement as a “hard won” diplomatic achievement which he insisted “all signatories should stick to it instead of walking away”. He added that fulfilling the aims of the agreement – primarily to limit global warming to “well below” two degrees – is a “responsibility” that countries must assume on behalf of future generations.
The call for global unity on tackling climate change will be interpreted by many as a thinly veiled message to the US President-elect Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated as President on Friday. During his election campaign last year Trump repeatedly threatened to withdraw the US from the historic agreement. If he did so, it would not only plunge the future of international climate negotiations into uncertainty, but also seriously damage the diplomatic partnership President Obama forged with China on climate issues in recent years.
Xi also expressed his support for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), saying the sustainable development agenda should be implemented to ensure “balanced development” that protects the environment while ensuring social progress across the world.
He added that China’s efforts to pursue green development are “paying off”, and encouraged other nations to “relentlessly pursue” innovation and foster new industries and business models as a route to future growth.
Earlier this month China pledged to invest $360bn in renewable energy projects by 2020, while earlier this week the country’s energy regulator announced it has stopped the development of more than 100 coal-fired power plants, with a combined capacity of more than 100GW, in its latest bid to curb the country’s use of fossil fuels.
China’s National Energy Agency announced yesterday it had suspended development of the plants, some of which were already under construction, in order to fulfil its pledge in the 13th Five Year Plan to cap coal capacity at 1,100GW.