China has spoken out against the fossil fuel phase out language, as stated by the country’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua.
The statement is of the utmost importance, given how China, as the world’s largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter, can either make or break a new climate agreement during the upcoming UN climate summit in Dubai.
Small island nations are particularly keen on pushing for the phase out of fossil fuels to be included in any agreements reached during the COP28 climate summit taking place from November 30, 2023.
But China’s stance against the use of this exact language also puts it against these very nations that are most susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change.
During the COP26 summit two years ago in Glasgow, Scotland, China also pushed to change the term ‘phase out’ to ‘phase down’ in regards to fossil fuels, and heavily advocated for the use of carbon capture technology, as a means of mitigating CO2 emissions.
Xie Zhenhua’s remarks on the matter were made before the Center for China and Globalization think tank in China’s capital, Beijing, in which, however, Xie also stated his intentions to meet with his US counterpart, John Kerry, either in the UK or a third country.
The statement was likely made in response to America’s climate envoy John Kerry’s visit to China for climate negotiations earlier this year.
So while Xie’s resistance to fossil fuel phase outs may be alarming and disappointing to many, the willingness to meet with Kerry does provide a glimmer of hope that China may still be inclined to at least engage in more discourse on the matter.
Phasing out traditional oil and gas was the leading subject discussed at this year’s edition of the U.N. Climate Ambition Summit, which took place in New York last week.
However, the world’s three largest GHG emitters, China, India and the US, were not invited to speak during the summit.