The bad diplomatic vibes heading into the critical United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, might be improving slightly, Ben writes.
Catch up fast: Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday pledged to end overseas finance for building new coal-fired power plants and boost support for clean energy in developing nations.
His move at the UN General Assembly came hours after President Biden proposed to double U.S. climate financial help for developing nations to over $11 billion annually by 2024.
Why it matters: Both moves, while facing uncertainties, could create a dose of momentum heading into the summit that UN Secretary-General António Guterres this week warned is at high risk of failing.
- China is the largest public financier of overseas coal plant construction. Chinese officials have faced pressure from the U.S. and other nations to end the practice.
- Meanwhile, developed nations' failure to mobilize a long-promised $100 billion annually by 2020 to help poorer countries fight climate change has created friction in pre-summit talks.
What they're saying: Guterres, whose deep concerns about the Glasgow summit in six weeks have been palpable of late, said he was encouraged by the twin moves from the world's two largest economies.
Guterres, in a statement, noted that phasing out coal was the single most important thing for keeping the Paris Agreement's temperature-limiting target viable.
Reality check: There are outstanding questions about Biden's pledge and China's move.
- The U.S. funding increases need approval in the narrowly divided Congress to materialize. Xi Jinping's video remarks to the UN provided no details about his plan.
- Columbia University energy expert David Sandalow tells the Wall Street Journal of China's pledge: “Details matter. In particular, what happens to projects already in the pipeline? But this is a significant and very positive announcement.”
- Thom Woodroofe, a former climate negotiator now at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said in a brief note that a key thing to watch is how much weight the announcement holds. "Will Beijing be able to rein in finance provided by all Chinese banks," he asked.
What we're watching: That's whether the U.S. and Chinese steps will create new diplomatic openings or spur stronger emissions efforts from other nations.
Guterres, in a statement about the U.S. and Chinese moves, said "we need decisive action by all countries, especially the G20." Under current emissions pledges, a "catastrophic" amount of warming would still occur, he said.
Yes, but: Europe's energy crunch may be creating fresh headwinds for new emissions policies there.
"Surging gas and electricity prices in Europe have intensified the political backlash against Brussels’ plans to extend carbon taxes on petrol and heating bills, threatening a central policy of the EU’s drive to hit net zero emissions by 2050," the Financial Times reports.
And Xi, president of the world's largest carbon emitter by far, did not offer new domestic emissions commitments.