Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau said Thursday that his country was using a meeting of the world’s largest economies to convince China not to be so terrible on the environment and human rights.
Trudeau told reporters that he was discussing with Chinese officials about workers’ rights, environmental protection and topics “where China has not always felt comfortable.” Trudeau and others have consistently claimed China is now the world’s leading country on climate issue.
His discussions with China have not gathered much publicity, mostly because media outlets are laser focused on how European countries will react to President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Yet Trudeau’s remarks suggest he recognizes that China’s environmental hazards risk stymieing the Paris climate deal more than Trump’s decision to bow out of the non-binding agreement. His heat-to-heart with the communist country come as evidence shows China and its neighbor India have greatly increased their coal production.
They boosted coal production in the first half of 2017 after cutting production last year. China cut production 8 percent last year to boost coal prices and get rid of excess capacity as their economy faltered.
Coal production fell 6 percent globally that year, but new numbers from AP finds that coal production from China, India and the U.S. has gone up 6 percent. China is the world’s largest polluter, followed by the U.S. and India.
Environmentalists and world leaders were elated after China agreed earlier this month to stay wed to the climate agreement, even after Trump’s move in June to depart. China pledged to “peak” greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, not eliminate them entirely. The implication, of course, is that China will increase emissions in absolute terms during that time.
Still, Trudeau and other world leaders are intent on making the G-20 summit a referendum on Trump’s belligerency toward the deal. He and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will also work on badgering the U.S. president about the importance of believing in climate change.
“We’ll tell him it’s important to take a lead role in tackling climate change and creating good jobs,” Trudeau told reporters about the meeting. He added there was no doubt that climate change was happening. He said climate change was a challenge, but also an opportunity to invest.
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