China’s President Xi Jinping will attend US President Joe Biden’s virtual climate summit this week, as the world’s most polluting nations seek rare common ground despite wider political tensions.
Biden has invited 40 world leaders including Xi and Russia’s Vladimir Putin to the meeting that starts on Earth Day on Thursday and is meant to mark Washington’s return to the front lines of the fight against climate change after former president Donald Trump disengaged from the process.
Washington and Beijing are at loggerheads over accusations about China’s policies in Hong Kong and its treatment of Uighurs in its northwestern Xinjiang region criticisms Beijing rejects as interference in its domestic affairs.
Meanwhile, Biden is expected to announce new US goals on reducing carbon emissions during the summit amid mounting global alarm over record-breaking temperatures and increasingly frequent natural disasters.
Beijing said that the US needs to take more responsibility for climate change, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua calling Washington’s return to the Paris accord ‘a truant getting back to class’.
Xi joined another virtual climate summit with France and Germany last week, where he said developed countries should “set an example” in reducing emissions and support developing nations’ responses to climate change.
On Tuesday, he also addressed the issue of climate change during his virtual speech at the Boao Forum for Asia, stressing the need for more investments in green energy and to make green technology a defining feature of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.