President Xi Jinping of China said his country would “strictly limit increasing coal consumption” in the next five years and phase it down in the following five years.
That’s significant because China is, by far, the world’s largest coal consumer and is continuing to expand its fleet of coal-fired power plants. Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel.
Mr. Xi repeated his pledge from last year to draw down carbon emissions to net zero by 2060. And, in a pointed reminder to his host, President Biden, he said that the industrialized countries of the West had a historic responsibility to act faster to reduce emissions.
The United States is history’s largest emitter. China is today’s largest emitter.
Mr. Xi added a conciliatory note by saying “China looks forward to working with the international community, including with the United States” on addressing climate change.
Neither China nor India, whose prime minister, Narendra Modi, spoke after Mr. Xi, made any new commitments to ramp up their climate ambitions. Mr. Modi repeated India’s pledge to expand its fleet of renewable energy projects, urged people to make lifestyle changes to address climate change, and announced a vague new partnership with the United States on green energy projects.
India’s once-galloping economy has slowed sharply and the country is currently in the throes of a deadly coronavirus surge.