China’s leader to address Cop26 by video link, Beijing says

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File: China’s president Xi Jinping will be attending both G20 and Cop26 via video link  (AP)
File: China’s president Xi Jinping will be attending both G20 and Cop26 via video link (AP)

Chinese president Xi Jinping will participate in the United Nations climate talks via video link.

The country’s foreign ministry confirmed Mr Xi’s attendance on Friday, ending speculation over his presence at the crucial summit. Mr Xi will similarly participate in the Group of 20 (G20) leaders’ summit in Rome before the 26th Conference of Parties (Cop26) summit, which will begin this Sunday.

Cop26 will have leaders or representatives of 197 countries assembling in Glasgow, in what is believed to be the most important summit after the Paris gathering of 2015.

US president Joe Biden, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and several others have already reached Europe to attend the summit in Rome first, after which they will arrive at Glasgow for Cop26.

There has been a lot of speculation over whether Mr Xi would attend the crucial summit, especially as he has not attended any international summit outside China since the onset of the pandemic.

Mr Xi’s presence at the summit is relevant as China is said to be the world’s largest carbon emitter. The negotiations at the summit will aim to push for more stringent rules from every country to rein in climate change.

His absence would have meant China did not intend to make any more pledges to reduce the impact of climate change. The country is also the world’s largest producer and consumer of fossil fuel and recently saw a push for more production amid an ongoing energy crisis.

Earlier on Thursday, China formally submitted its climate goals, pledging to attain carbon neutrality — a state of balancing out emissions by absorbing as much carbon as the country produces — by 2060.

The document, however, only included targets previously announced by Mr Xi, but set no additional goals.

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