As the US dismantles environmental policies, China is moving to take on global leadership as a ‘new climate era’ begins
Donald Trump’s dramatic reversal of Obama-era environmental policies has been met by a resolute affirmation from Chinese authorities that the country is fully committed to honouring its obligations to the Paris agreement. The announcement was made on March 29 by Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, who said to reporters: “President Xi Jinping said in January this year at UN headquarters that China will continue to make efforts to deal with climate change and we will honour our obligations 100 percent.” Lu stopped short of specifically referring to Donald Trump’s recent actions, but called on all signatories to the agreement to uphold their commitments. “All countries, including the US and China, have made contributions, and we still believe that all parties should go with the tide, seize the opportunity, fulfil their pledges and implement the agreement”, he said.
Donald Trump has famously declared climate change to be a hoax invented by China
Trump, who has famously declared climate change to be a hoax invented by China, released a sweeping executive order on March 28 that will act to expand energy extraction in the US and dismantle the Clean Power Plan put in place by his predecessor. Trump has demonstrated an intention to starve the Environmental Protection Agency of funds, having proposed a 31 percent cut to its budget. Addressing the issue of climate change, a Whitehouse official said: “It is an issue that deserves attention…but I think the President has been very clear that he is not going to pursue climate change policies that put the US economy at risk. It is very simple.” He further elaborated that he believed the Trump administration could both “serve the environment and increase energy independence at the same time”.
In stark contrast to the US, China’s most recent five-year plan incorporates large-scale investment in renewable energy alongside ramped up restrictions on coal power. The scale of Chinese investment in renewables already far outstrips that of the US, but a divergence in policy positions will pave the way for China to become increasingly dominant the sector.
This shift in leadership has been underscored by Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, who tweeted about the change during a visit to Beijing:
— Miguel Arias Cañete (@MAC_europa) March 29, 2017
For a more in-depth analysis of China’s growing dominance in clean energy, look out for the upcoming spring/summer 2017 print edition of The New Economy.