Xi Jinping to address Cop26 by written statement, not video link

China’s president, Xi Jinping, will address the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow on Monday in the form of a written statement.

An official schedule said Xi’s statement would be uploaded to the conference website following addresses by world leaders, including his US and French counterparts, Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron.

According to the list of speakers released by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Xi is the only leader to address the “first part of the high-level segment for heads of state and government” in a written statement. He had previously been expected to appear by video link, according to Associated Press on Friday, which cited China’s foreign ministry. His appearance, virtual or otherwise, was not listed on the previous draft schedule of speakers.

China is the world’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, making it a key player at Cop26, the latest round of talks aimed at strengthening the fight against global heating, which began on Sunday. Despite this, Xi, who has not left China since 2020 amid the Covid pandemic, had not been expected to attend the conference in person.

Xi attended the G20 summit in Rome over the weekend via video link, and on Sunday night spoke to those there at length about the climate crisis, urging countries to “balance environmental protection and economic development, address climate change and safeguard people’s livelihood”, and saying that “major economies should strengthen cooperation in this regard”.

“The G20 members should take the lead in promoting and applying advanced technologies, and developed countries should also earnestly fulfil their commitments to providing funds for developing countries,” he added.

In updated pledges, China confirmed to the UN last week that it would bring its emissions to a peak before 2030 and cut them to net zero by 2060. It also promised to raise total wind and solar power generation capacity to 1,200 gigawatts by 2030 in order to reach its goals.

However, climate watchers were hoping for new pledges to cap energy consumption and an earlier start to reducing the use of coal, currently scheduled to begin in 2026, adding to pressure on China from other world leaders to promise more.

Last Tuesday, Macron asked Xi during a phone call to send the world a “decisive signal” on the climate emergency, according to the French presidency.

Xi also spoke with Boris Johnson on Friday. A Chinese government statement said the two leaders spoke about topics ranging from bilateral ties to sustainability.

Xi said Beijing would “do what it says” when it came to its green and low-carbon development. The statement added that he said China’s goals would mean a “broad and profound economic and societal change”, and that that would be done “step by step and [through] hard work”.

Read More: Xi Jinping to address Cop26 by written statement, not video link

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