Tue, 18 May 2021

Beijing [China], April 22 (ANI): As leaders from around the world -- from US President Joe Biden to French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- called for global cooperation to tackle the climate crisis, China used the Leaders Summit on Climate to neutralise the widespread condemnation of its human rights violations.

In an opinion article for The Hill dated Thursday, Jianli Yang, a former political prisoner in China and Aaron Rhodes, who is president of the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe, said that by providing China with its own "public relations opportunity", the event may well be judged by history as emblematic of the process by which China neutralised not its carbon emissions, but opposition to its human rights atrocities and aggression.

"For China, a summit to neutralise criticism, not carbon," read the headline of the joint opinion article.

"The summit will allow Chinese leader Xi Jinping to pose with Biden as a heroic global co-leader in the campaign to save the world from environmental catastrophe. Xi apparently is happy to share the glory with Biden; it articulates with other efforts to offset negative impressions left by China's illegal assault on democracy in Hong Kong, threats against Taiwan, and exploitation of small, weak countries caught in China's debt traps, not to mention Uyghur policies that Biden's own Secretary of State has termed "genocide"," they wrote.

"Xi's pledge to reach carbon neutrality by 2060 is intended to project China's image as a responsible major power, by seizing the high moral ground on climate politics, folding it into the concept of a "community of common human destiny," which is prominent among his repertoire of platitudes," they added.

Jianli and Rhodes stated that transition to a renewables-based industrial sector would mean up-skilling workers and completely dismantling existing factories. But China's government is yet to even present a detailed plan of how it aims to bring carbon emissions to zero in the next 40 years.

"Indeed, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cannot fulfill Xi's environmental promises and remain in power; they would slow China's growth and lead to the erosion of middle-class support for the regime," they added.

Citing China's abysmal environmental record, Jianli and Rhodes wrote, Xi's 'gesture' appears little "more than a cynical bid for appeasement by world leaders, banking on the premise that America and other major democracies are more worried about pollution than freedom, human rights and democracy in China and around the world".

Xi's claim that China would achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, and to peak carbon emissions by 2030 comes as coal generation rose in China in 2020, while falling elsewhere -- making it the only G20 nation to see a significant jump in coal-fired generation.

According to a report by research from Ember, a London-based energy and climate research group, China is now responsible for more than half (53 per cent) of the world's coal-fired electricity, up from 44 per cent in 2015.

Over the years, China has received applause for its clean environmental speeches at climate change and environmental events. However, ground reality narrates a different story as China continues to be the largest coal producer globally.

Citing China Coal Transport and Distribution Association's (CCTDA) data, the Asia Times reported that the coal used by coastal power plants at five major Chinese utilities hit 4,88,800 tonnes during the last week of March, more than double from a record low seen on February 10 last year.

Despite making tall speeches about the road to have a clean environment, the Chinese government reportedly plans to add coal storage facilities in 2020 to ensure stockpiles at or above 15 days' normal supply for coal-driven power plants. (ANI)

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