January 28, 2023

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Aris Messinis | Pool | Reuters

BEIJING – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday called for countries to work together, respecting their different responsibilities in reducing CO2 emissions. Xi made the remarks at a US-led climate summit.

The video conference call of the Chinese leader, which lasted about five minutes, was the first of the leader of a single country after the opening speeches by US President Joe Biden and his administration. The UN Secretary General also spoke at the event. Biden invited 40 heads of state and government to the two-day summit, which is due to conclude on Friday.

Reducing CO2 emissions is one of the few areas where China and the US have announced cooperation. This is also in line with Xi’s announcement last year that the Asian nation aims to have the highest carbon emissions by 2030. The two countries are the largest carbon emitters in the world.

“We must be committed to multilateralism,” said Xi as his fifth point in his brief remarks, an official translation of which the White House has streamed online in Chinese.

Xi’s sixth point was the commitment “to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities”. He said developed countries should step up their ambitions in addressing climate issues while helping less developed countries accelerate their transition to low-carbon growth.

The Chinese head of state then referred to a joint statement published by the US and China over the weekend on how the two countries would work together to “cope with the climate crisis”. The statement followed two days of talks in Shanghai between US Special Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua.

“China looks forward to working with the international community, including the United States, to jointly advance global environmental policy,” said Xi.

Since taking office in January, Biden has called China the US’s “most serious competitor” as he maintains former President Donald Trump’s tough stance on Beijing.

Xi and Biden spoke by phone in February just before the Chinese Spring Festival.

On Thursday, Xi said China would “tightly control coal-fired power plants” and limit increases in coal consumption over the next five years, with a phase over the next five years.