Beijing announced on Friday August 1 to suspend its cooperation with the United States on several issues, in particular the fight against global warming, in retaliation for the visit of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the United States House of Representatives, to Taiwan. China and the United States, the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, had nevertheless tied a surprise agreement on the climate at the COP26 summit in Glasgow last year.
China “takes the question of global warming hostage on the question of Taiwan”, deplores the specialist in China and researcher at the Foundation for Strategic Research Antoine Bondaz this Saturday on franceinfo.
franceinfo: Is this suspension of dialogue with the United States by China opportunistic or a means of exerting pressure?
Antoine Bondaz: It is opportunistic in the sense that China, voluntarily, makes sure to link the question of Taiwan to other subjects and in particular global subjects including global warming. There is the will of China to try to obtain concessions from the United States on Taiwan even though the Americans have not changed their policy vis-à-vis the island. We have a Chinese strategy of pressure on the United States which risks, in reality, giving an extremely bad image of China, which is taking the issue of global warming hostage on the question of Taiwan.
Does the suspension of the dialogue mean that China will stop making climate efforts?
Afterwards, we must not over-interpret this Chinese decision for the moment. It is not because China has suspended climate negotiations with the United States that it cannot continue to make efforts, to talk about it with other countries.
“The suspension of this dialogue does not mean that tomorrow China will massively increase its carbon emissions for example”.
Antoine Bondaz, researcher, China specialist
Has China already made progress in its commitments to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060?
China has taken action. In particular, it included in its 14th five-year plan to try to reduce the energy intensity and the carbon intensity of its economy. But the problem for China today is its energy mix which still depends heavily on coal. Last year, China accounted for 54% of the world’s coal consumption. We talk a lot about Poland in Europe, which represents 1% of coal consumption in the world. China is making considerable efforts to install electricity generation capacity from renewable sources. The country represents 25% of the solar and wind capacities installed in the world, 30% of the hydraulic capacities and a little less than 15% of the nuclear capacities installed in the world. It is true that China, over the past 20 years, has made considerable efforts in terms of producing electricity that does not emit greenhouse gases, but unfortunately this is not enough. What is perhaps missing today is a Chinese plan to be credible, that is to say how China is going to do concretely by 2060 to achieve carbon neutrality. There are some positive points, we had the announcement by Xi Jinping a few months ago that from 2025 the consumption of coal will be reduced, yet this issue of coal is essential in China.