China’s Xi Jinping will only address the COP26 summit with a written statement, Reuters reported.
China’s lack of engagement comes despite its large contribution to global emissions.
China contributes some 28% of carbon emissions and consumes more coal than any other nation.
China’s Xi Jinping plans to contribute only a written note to the landmark COP26 climate change summit in Scotland, a gesture which further illustrates China’s isolation from global action on emissions.
Xi was one of several world leaders, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, to refuse to attend the Glasgow summit of world leaders this week.
Reuters reported Monday that Xi will interact with the summit only via a written note published on the COP26 website.
China’s foreign ministry had said Xi – who has not left China since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic last year – would participate via video link, the Guardian reported.
The downgrade appears to have come as a result of an intentional move to limit the impact of nations whose leaders do not come.
A source in the UK organizing team told The Times of London that only leaders who attended the conference in person would be able to address the conference.
Insider contacted Downing Street to confirm the report.
Prospects for a breakthrough at COP26 depended partly on the outcome of talks at the G20 summit in Rome, where world leaders hoped to secure an agreement on phasing out coal consumption.
But no such agreement was reached, and China – which contributes around 28% of carbon emissions and consumes more coal than any other country – was among the countries to resist making binding new contributions, The New York Times reported.
Some participants were downbeat about the prospects of a breakthrough in Glasgow.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting the summit, held a downbeat press conference Sunday where he put the chances of success in talks at “six out of 10.”
The UK wants countries to announce detailed plans to cut carbon emissions in half by as early as 2030, but very few countries have indicated that they will do so.
Boris Johnson said the G20 talks left countries with a “huge way to go” at COP26.
US President Joe Biden was highly critical of countries including China for their unwillingness to engage in the talks, Politico reported.
“With regard to the disappointment, the disappointment relates to the fact that … not only Russia but China basically didn’t show up in terms of any commitments to deal with climate change,” Biden said after the G20 summit.
“And there’s a reason why people should be disappointed in that. I found it disappointing myself.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “I leave Rome with my hopes unfulfilled.”
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