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China defends joining with India on coal ‘phase down’ instead of ‘phase out’ at COP26


China on Monday asked developed countries to stop using the coal first and provide financial aid to developing countries to adopt green technologies as it defended its move to join hands with India in calling for “phase down” instead of “phase out” of coal in the final text of the COP26 conference declaration.

Negotiators from nearly 200 countries accepted a new climate agreement after the COP26 summit in Glasgow concluded on Saturday with a deal, which recognises India’s intervention for the world to “phase down” rather than “phase out” fossil fuels.

“Low carbon transformation is an overriding trend and the goal all countries are working towards,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here.

He was responding to a question on COP26 Chairman Alok Sharma’s reported comments that China and India need to explain to developing nations why they watered down the language on efforts to phase out coal at the conference and rejected calls for “phasing out” coal firepower instead opted to “phasing down”.

Zhao said, “the improvement of the energy structure and reduction of the ratio of carbon consumption is a progressive process that requires respect for the national circumstances of different countries and their development stage as well as their different resources”.

“So we should first give consideration to this gap in energy and ensure energy security for the developing countries. We encourage developed countries to stop using coal first and also hope they can provide support to financing technology to developing countries,” he said.

Chinese official media has criticised the Western media for targeting China and India for pressing “phase down” use of coal power instead of “phase out” in the final text adopted by 197 countries at the COP26 conference which concluded last week.

Climate scientists hailed the “unprecedented determination of tackling global warming” demonstrated by summit participants, especially developing countries including China and India, as not only underscoring the urgency of the climate issue but also a stimulus for developed countries to match their promises with actions, state-run Global Times reported on Monday.

All participants of COP26, especially developing countries, have demonstrated unprecedented ambition and determination to tackle climate change, Pan Jiahua, director of the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies, told the Global Times.

He praised India for its pledge to target net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2070.

“It’s almost a mission impossible for India, which relies on coal for 75 per cent of its electricity,” said Pan, praising India for showing “valuable determination.”

In his reply, Zhao said China pays high importance to green transformation and has made “tremendous efforts” to control the coal consumption of coal-fired power plants.

Since this year, President Xi Jinping has announced a series of measures to strictly control the coal-fired power plants and to put strict control on the growth of coal consumption during the current 14th five-year plan and to gradually reduce that in the 15th five-year plan.

“We also support green and low carbon development in developing countries and we will not build new coal power plant projects overseas. This has won great acclaim from the international community and we also reiterated it in the joint declaration with the US in Glasgow,” Zhao said.



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