New US climate envoy wants China to speed up coal transition, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld

TOKYO: China should speed up its transition away from coal, the new chief US climate negotiator John Podesta said Thursday, calling for Beijing to “take their responsibility seriously”.

“China is the largest emitter (of greenhouse gases) in the world… They still have online in my view more coal than they need, and more coal than is good for the health of the world,” Podesta said in Tokyo.

He praised Beijing’s role in the UN’s COP28 conference in Dubai in December when nations agreed to triple global renewables capacity this decade and to “transition away” from fossil fuels.

But Podesta added: “We just hope that (China’s) transition away from coal would be a little faster than their current schedule.”

The United States was moving to “decarbonise” its power sector, he told an event.

“We are historically the world’s largest emitter but we take that responsibility seriously,” Podesta said.

“Now China is by far the world’s largest emitter. They need to take their responsibility seriously.”

He said it was key to keep communicating, and noted that China was “the fastest deployer of renewable power in the world”.

Despite frictions in other areas, on climate change Beijing and Washington have found some common ground.

In November Podesta’s predecessor John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua met in California, and issued a major joint statement calling for an acceleration of renewables.

In an earlier interview with Japan’s Mainichi daily, Podesta said he and his new Chinese counterpart Liu Zhenmin have agreed to meet in-person in the future.

China has pledged to bring its carbon dioxide emissions to a peak by 2030 and to net zero by 2060.

Under the Paris climate agreement, Beijing has also committed to a series of stepping-stone targets, such as ensuring 20 percent of its energy comes from alternatives to fossil fuels and cutting the carbon intensity of its economy by 2025.

But the country’s energy-guzzling rebound from the pandemic means “all of these targets are severely off track after 2023”, according to a report released last month by the Finland-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

There are fears that a victory by Donald Trump in November’s US presidential elections could deal a serious blow to coordinated international efforts to tackle climate change.

Podesta said that in the United States at least, there was considerable support for moving away from fossil fuels because people were seeing that the transition was creating jobs.

The US election is “a choice that the American people are going to have to make”, Podesta said.

“And I think that when it comes to the climate side of that, there is no question that a majority of the American people support the direction that we are going in.”

  • Published On Mar 14, 2024 at 05:07 PM IST

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