China’s attendance at Cop26 in doubt, Alok Sharma says

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Chinese president Xi Jinping has not committed to attending Cop26 in Glasgow in November  (Getty)
Chinese president Xi Jinping has not committed to attending Cop26 in Glasgow in November (Getty)

Chinese president Xi Jinping has yet to commit to attending the Cop26 international climate change talks in Glasgow in November, according to the conference’s head.

Cop26 president Alok Sharma acknowledged China will have to be a “key” part of any agreement and said the “ball is in their court” to make the talks a success.

But he was unable to confirm China would even be sending a delegation to Glasgow – although he said he was “very, very hopeful” they would.

When asked if Mr Xi had committed to being in Glasgow, Mr Sharma told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday: “No, not yet.

“There is no doubt that China is going to be part of the key to all of this. They are the biggest emitter in the world.

”What president Xi Jinping has said is that they are going to strictly restrict the use of coal in this next five-year period, from 2026 they are going to phase down, but we want to see the detail of that. That is what we are pressing them.

“They have said to me they want the Cop26 to be a success. The ball is in their court. We want them to come forward and make it a success together with the rest of the world.”

Mr Sharma was unable to confirm whether a Chinese delegation would be present at the talks.

He told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show: “Normally these things come a bit closer to summits. I am very, very hopeful that we will have a delegation from China that is coming.

“President Xi Jinping would come for the world leaders’ conference which is the first two days of Cop but, of course, we want China there as part of the negotiations.

“I do feel that they will come for that. I certainly expect that China will send a negotiating team to Glasgow.”

China’s participation at Cop26 is widely seen as crucial if the talks are to make any progress on global warming.

However, the recently announced defence pact by the UK, US and Australia has infuriated Beijing, which has described the move as an “extremely irresponsible ... geopolitical gaming tool”.

The new Aukus alliance has been hailed as a landmark moment in the West’s strategic engagement with China in the Indo-Pacific region and has been widely viewed as a move to curb its growing military assertiveness in the region.

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