Former climate chief Christiana Figueres, who has praised China’s communist government for its global warming policies, is campaigning to become the United Nations’ next secretary-general after Ban Ki-moon steps down.
If successful, Figueres would be the first female secretary-general in UN history. She’s not the only woman to enter the race, but Figueres is probably the most high-profile woman to run because of her role in negotiating a global warming agreement in Paris last year.
“There is a prevalent feeling that the UN has stagnated, operates excessively in silos and is not fit for purpose,” Figueres said in a statement on her website.
“The question before us now is how to address the exigencies of a future so mired in complexity. In the face of rampant injustices, abuses, unrest and conflicts with increasing ramifications, there is understandable despair,” she said.
In her effort to push a global greenhouse gas reduction agreement, Figueres has repeatedly praised China’s policies aimed at tackling global warming. The Communist Party has ruled China since 1949.
Figueres has routinely compared China’s willingness to tackle global warming to the partisan divide on global warming policy in the U.S.
Figueres said in 2014 China is “doing it right” when it comes to fighting global warming, referring to their efforts to limit pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.
“They actually want to breathe air that they don’t have to look at,” she said. “They’re not doing this because they want to save the planet. They’re doing it because it’s in their national interest.”
Figueres then remarked how the partisan divide in the U.S. Congress is “very detrimental” to passing any sort of global warming bill.
Figueres praised China again in 2015 for ramping up green energy production. China “understands that this is what is coming down the pike, this is where job creation is,” Figueres told The Associated Press.
“Why would the United States industry want to leave the opportunity of growth?” Figueres said. “And the opportunity to export the technology? Because all countries are turning to renewable energy.”
What’s ironic is China’s green energy push has done little to reduce the country’s very real pollution problems.
China’s cities suffer from extremely poor air quality. For example, Beijing, a city often shrouded in smog, issued its first-ever “red alert” air pollution warning in December after it introduced a new pollution scale.
Beijing’s air quality was declared “unhealthy” Friday as this report was being written.
China also has severe water pollution problems. Reports surfaced in 2014 about a river full of dead pigs in the northwestern part of the country.
Figueres left her UN climate job earlier this year, and is now looking to head up the entire international governing body.
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