China Poised to Take Lead on Climate After Trump’s Move to Undo Policies

“Washington is obliged to set an example for mankind’s efforts against global warming, and now the Trump administration has become the first government of a major power to take opposite actions on the Paris Agreement,” the newspaper said. “It is undermining the great cause of mankind trying to protect the earth, and the move is indeed irresponsible and very disappointing.”

The editorial also questioned why China was making concessions on fossil-fuel use when the United States was scrapping its promises: “How can China, still underdeveloped, give away a chunk of room for development, just to nourish those Western countries that are already rich?”

Chinese participation is critical for global efforts on climate change. With its economic growth and rampant infrastructure construction, China consumes as much coal as the rest of the world combined. The burning of coal, which is at the core of the power, steel and cement industries in the country, generates enormous amounts of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. So environmental advocates and officials around the world constantly say China must break its coal addiction.

But unlike in the United States, Chinese leaders and senior officials have consistently said that climate change is a serious problem and acknowledged that changing the energy mix to move away from fossil-fuel sources is important.

And because of its air pollution crisis, China announced policies in 2013 to limit the use of coal in the country’s three largest population centers. More recently, scientists have said that there is a dangerous cycle at work: Weather patterns from climate change are exacerbating the smog.

“China is cutting back on coal because of its lethal costs to human health as well as its high carbon emissions, and plans to transition to the energy sources of tomorrow, rather than yesterday,” said Isabel Hilton, founder of

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