NEWS

Did Chinese President Xi Jinping Side-Eye Trump On Climate Change?

“Any harm we inflict on nature will eventually return to haunt us,” the Chinese leader said.

18/10/2017 22:50 SAST | Updated 10/11/2017 18:31 SAST

As U.S. President Donald Trump continues to unravel legislation designed to fight climate change, Chinese President Xi Jinping is promoting his own country as a climate change leader.

At the opening of the Communist Party congress in Beijing on Wednesday, Xi said China has taken a “driving seat in international cooperation to respond to climate change.”

“No country alone can address the many challenges facing mankind. No country can afford to retreat into self-isolation,” Xi said. “Only by observing the laws of nature can mankind avoid costly blunders in its exploitation. Any harm we inflict on nature will eventually return to haunt us. This is a reality we have to face.”

While he didn’t mention Trump by name in the address, some observers are interpreting Xi’s words as part of a campaign to present himself as a strong and responsible world leader while Trump takes aim at environmental protections and alienates U.S. allies.

The Trump administration announced its withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement in June, and proposed repealing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan earlier this month. Trump also has a personal history of denying climate change, describing global warming as “mythical” and a “hoax” in past tweets.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, struggles with choking air pollution that causes significant harm. It is also home to three of the four worst-performing companies in Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics, which was published on Wednesday and ranks major consumer electronics companies on their commitment to environmentally friendly practices. (The U.S.-based Amazon also placed in the bottom.)

But China has re-emphasized its commitment to tackling climate change with a pledge to cap carbon emissions by 2030 and invest 2.5 trillion yuan ($380 billion) in renewable power generation by 2020. Beijing is also developing plans to phase out vehicles powered by fossil fuels, potentially as soon as 2030.

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