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Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Mary Altaffer/Pool/Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping told the UN General Assembly Tuesday that his country "will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad" and plans to boost support for clean energy in developing nations.

Why it matters: The pledge, if maintained, would mark a breakthrough in efforts to transition global power away from the most carbon-emitting fuel.

  • Nations, including the U.S., have been urging China — historically a key source of coal-plant finance — to make such a commitment.
  • Xi's pledge on coal financing comes just weeks before a critical UN climate summit. However, his remarks did not provide any details on the commitment or its implementation timeline.

Yes, but: China is by far the world's largest coal producer and consumer, and it's still building new coal-fired power generation domestically.

Xi reiterated China's pledge to have its greenhouse gas emissions peak before 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, but he did not offer strengthened domestic commitments.

Go deeper

Oct 20, 2021 - World

Kremlin says Putin will not travel to UN climate summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a governmental meeting in Moscow on Oct. 20. Photo: Alexey Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

The Kremlin said Wednesday that Russian President Putin will not travel to the United Nations climate summit that starts in Glasgow, Scotland, on Oct. 31 but will take part remotely while other representatives attend in person, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: A lack of a physical appearance from the leader of the fourth largest carbon dioxide-emitting country in the world would be a blow to the crucial climate talks.

Net-zero emissions fight breaks out before COP26

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Here's a sign of how tough it'll be to win new emissions-cutting moves at COP26: Big developing nations are refusing to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Driving the news: That's spelled out in a new statement from countries including China, the biggest greenhouse gas emitter by far, as well as India and Indonesia.

Oct 20, 2021 - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.

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