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We join you this week with new details of Beijing’s plan to nurture innovation as central authorities also move forward with a crackdown against wasteful eating habits.

China will continue to support smaller players in an economy often headed by state-owned behemoths.

Washington and Beijing are verbally sparring again, this time on climate action as the world scrambles to avert the existential consequences of a warming planet.

Read about these and other topics in the pages ahead that help capture the fluidity of developments in China and the essence of where the country is headed in the current era.

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International Relations

Beijing’s and Washington’s Opening Remarks at COP26

As world leaders and delegations continue to congregate in Glasgow for the 26th UN Conference of the Parties (COP26) on climate change, China and the U.S., the world’s first and second biggest polluters, respectively, have outlined current and future actions as part of a global effort to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius and achieve carbon neutrality.

America’s re-emergence on climate

U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the gathering, renewing Washington’s commitment to decarbonize the American economy by 2050 and galvanize actions further afield. The Biden administration pegged climate action as a high priority, and the president immediately signed an executive order to re-join the Paris Agreement soon after he was sworn in.

He also arrived in Glasgow following a visit to the Capitol trying to garner support from his own Democratic Party to support his Build Back Better Act, which contains a $555 Billion infrastructure spending on renewable energy. (source)

The U.S. has committed to slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% below the 2005 levels by 2030, and will realize a 100% carbon-free power sector by 2035. Net-zero emissions are to be achieved by 2050. Moreover, Washington has also expressed willingness to partner up with countries hit by climate change by providing assistance for ‘adaptability and resilience. (source 1)(source 2)

To achieve these targets, the U.S. intends to act on formal climate commitments in the following ways:

  1. The President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PLAN). The instrument foresees the allocation of US$3 billion annually in adaptation finance by FY2024 to help developing countries manage the effects of climate change and assist them in greening their economies. (source)

  2. Submit the first adaptation communication under the Paris Agreement. The document “outlines U.S. priorities, policies, and initiatives to implement adaptation and resilience strategies both domestically and in vulnerable countries and communities around the world.” (source)

  3. Submit the 7th UNFCCC National Communication and the 3rd and 4th biennial reports, focusing on actions taken between 2016 and 2020. (source)

  4. Release the decarbonization strategy to meet the 2050 deadline. (source)

  5. Launch the Build Back Better Framework, which would inject US$555 billion into the U.S. transition to a clean energy economy. (source)

China’s positions

While the U.S. painstakingly detailed efforts, China shied away from presenting a clear and convincing plan of action, other than the reiteration of the goals committed at the UN General Assembly in 2020. Addressing COP26 in writing, President and General Secretary Xi Jinping underscored three fundamental steps to combat climate change (read more).

  1. Uphold the multilateral consensus. According to Xi, multilateralism remains the “right prescription.” Parties “need to build on the existing consensus, increase mutual trust, step up cooperation and work together to deliver.”

  2. Focus on concrete actions. Xi has encouraged parties to make realistic pledges according to national conditions. Moreover, he pushed developed countries to do more and provide financial support to the developing world.

  3. Accelerate the green transition by harnessing innovation in science and technology.

The great power rivals did not spare criticism. On the heels of the G20 summit in Rome, Biden lamented Xi Jinping’s absence from multilateral fora and expressed Washington’s disappointment in China and Russia, who “didn’t show up in terms of any commitments to deal with climate change.” Both the Chinese and Russian heads of state decided against attending the G20 summit and COP26 in person. (source)

China foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, replying to Biden’s criticism, pointed out that “developed countries must shoulder inexcusable historic responsibility for emitting greenhouse gas in their industrialization process in the past 200 years”. According to Wang, attacks on China lack a moral basis. (source)

Just before the COP26, at the G20 summit, the world’s economic giants pledged to cease financing coal power in third countries and seek carbon neutrality “by or around mid-century.” In place of firm commitments, the G20 managed to produce a declaration based on a fragile consensus between countries led by the EU and the U.S., which have put forward 2050 as the target year for net-zero emissions. China and Russia have pledged to decarbonize by 2060, while India made a new pledge to reach net-zero emission by 2070. (source)


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