China commits to Paris climate deal as Trump decision looms

China commits to Paris climate deal as Trump decision looms

Chimneys in TianjinImage copyrightEPA
Image captionMr Li said fighting climate change was in China’s own interest

China will honour its commitments on climate change, its premier has said, as the US appears poised to pull out of a key deal.

Speaking on a visit to Germany, Premier Li Keqiang said fighting climate change was in China’s own interest.

China was counting on other countries to follow its example, Mr Li said.

US President Donald Trump is due to announce his decision on the 2015 Paris agreement later. Some reports in the US suggest he will withdraw.

“China will continue to implement the promises made in the Paris accord. But of course we also hope to do this with the co-operation of others,” Mr Li said.

As a big developing country, China had an “international responsibility” to try to prevent climate change, he added.

Media captionCalifornia to ‘work with China’ on climate

Chinese and EU leaders are set to agree a joint statement on the Paris climate agreement, saying it is “an imperative more important than ever”.

The joint statement – a draft of which has been seen by the BBC – says rising temperatures affect national security and increase “social and political fragility”, while the transition to clean energy creates jobs and economic growth.

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‘Selfish and irresponsible’ – Chinese media reaction, by BBC Monitoring

Chinese media are critical of Trump’s hint that the US will leave the Paris agreement.

Nationalist newspaper Global Times said it would “set a bad example”, reveal the US as “selfish and irresponsible” and “weaken US leadership”.

However, state TV channels downplayed the significance, with Shanghai-based Dragon TV saying Mr Trump “absolutely wasn’t speaking formally”.

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Russia also said it would stick to its climate commitments, but said the Paris agreement would be affected by a US pullout.

“It goes without saying that the effectiveness of this convention is likely to be reduced without its key participants,” a Kremlin spokesman said.

Media captionMatt McGrath explains why we should care about climate change

Meanwhile British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was “anxious” at the prospect of a US withdrawal but said he believed Mr Trump was “genuinely thinking about the issue”.

Some of the biggest gains in tackling carbon emissions in the US had been made at state level rather than federal level, he added.

Mr Trump’s refusal to commit to the Paris agreement caused frustration at a G7 meeting last week, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel describing the discussion as “difficult, not to say dissatisfying”.

China overtook the US as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2007.

Graphic showing impact of US pulling out of Paris deal

What was agreed in Paris?

Climate change, or global warming, refers to the damaging effect of gases, or emissions, released from industry and agriculture on the atmosphere.

The Paris accord is meant to limit the global rise in temperature attributed to emissions.

Countries agreed to:

  • Keep global temperatures “well below” the level of 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times and “endeavour to limit” them even more, to 1.5C
  • Limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100
  • Review each country’s contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge
  • Enable rich countries to help poorer nations by providing “climate finance” to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy

To date, 147 out of 197 countries have ratified the accord, including the US, where it entered into force last November.