While U.S. media outlets herald China as the next climate change leader, Chinese media was quick to criticize President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change.
Trump declared Thursday afternoon that the U.S. will pull out of the agreement, which the previous administration championed but the current one asserts is detrimental to American interests. Trump’s decision was met with strong criticism from a number of countries, among which China was very outspoken in its media reports.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency called the move a “setback” in the fight against climate change.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) June 2, 2017
The China Daily, another government-run paper, also criticized Trump’s move.
“It doesn’t take rocket science to fathom that U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement makes the future of concerted global action against climate change uncertain,” explained a China Daily editorial published Friday.
The outlet played up the move as a sign that the U.S. will not follow through on its promises.
“Trump’s move to withdraw the U.S. from the pact could have severe diplomatic consequences,” the paper warned, “as other countries, its close allies included, might no longer expect Washington to honor its commitments.”
Beijing has stated that it intends to “steadfastly” uphold the provisions of the Paris accord, claiming that it will unite with other countries “to do even more to protect the one planet we’ve got.”
The most critical outlet was the nationalist Global Times, a paper affiliated with the People’s Daily, the leading paper of the Communist Party of China. The “reckless withdrawal from the climate deal will waste increasingly finite US diplomatic resources, and the US’ selfishness and irresponsibility will be made clear to the world, crippling the country’s world leadership,” the outlet said.
The tabloid accused the U.S. of setting a bad example.
In his speech announcing American withdrawal from the agreement, Trump pointed out that Paris strengthens other countries at the expense of the U.S. He singled out China and India, and warned that the deal would simply line the pockets of the developing world with American dollars.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” the president said Thursday.
Numerous leading American newspapers and media outlets are claiming that the U.S. has ceded leadership to China on climate change, but what has China actually agreed to do through the Paris deal?
Beijing has promised to “peak” greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, but it is expected to increase its emissions in absolute terms over the next decade or so. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate projects Chinese emissions will increase 34 percent over the 2012 levels by 2030. China has essentially agreed to stick to its current development path, which would cause emissions to level off over time. According to China’s current five-year plan, it intends to increase coal power capacity by as much as 20 percent by 2020 even as the country closes plants.
While there is no denying that China has made certain commitments to green energy, it may be a little early to declare Beijing a leader in the fight against global warming.
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