US welcomes China end to coal funding but seeks more

US welcomes China end to coal funding but seeks more

A Chinese-backed coal plant in Serang, Indonesia seen in October 2020.
A Chinese-backed coal plant in Serang, Indonesia seen in October 2020.

UNITED NATIONS: The United States on Wednesday welcomed China's promise to end funding for coal projects overseas but voiced hope the world's largest emitter would also do more at home on climate change.

President Xi Jinping told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that China will stop backing coal overseas, all but drying up the world's foreign assistance to the dirty form of energy in developing countries after similar announcements by South Korea and Japan.

"We welcome this announcement but we also recognize that more needs to be done," a US official told reporters at the United Nations, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with customs.

"We look forward to hearing more about the additional steps that they can take in this decisive decade to further reduce their national emissions," the official said.

The official said that further Chinese action would "help put the world more closely on a trajectory that will hold temperatures from rising to well above 1.5 degrees," as appears increasingly likely despite an aspiration set by the 2015 Paris accord.

UN scientists say that warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is a threshold at which the planet can avoid the worst ravages of climate change including increasingly severe weather, droughts and flooding.

Despite China's pledge on overseas assistance, it has kept investing at home in coal -- an issue raised on a visit earlier this month by US climate envoy John Kerry.

President Joe Biden has put a high priority on the environment after defeating the climate skeptic Donald Trump and in his own UN speech Tuesday vowed to double US aid for countries hardest hit by climate change, a key gap ahead of UN climate talks in Glasgow in November.

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