FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter outside a company building in Shanghai

China urges US to honor climate commitments after Supreme Court ruling

The Supreme Court has voted to limit the US Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal and gas power plants under the Clean Air Act, much to the chagrin of environmentalists.

The ruling has been criticized by the international community, Zhao told reporters at a regular press conference, adding that “it is not enough just to chant slogans to address climate change.”

“We urge developed countries, including the United States, to … face their historical responsibilities and show greater ambition and action,” he added.

Environmentalists in China said the decision could undermine the broader climate relationship between Beijing and Washington, which has played a critical role in securing global agreements to curb warming greenhouse gases.

“The ruling has profound ramifications and will significantly weaken the conditions for future climate talks between the United States and China,” said Li Shu, a senior adviser at Greenpeace.

Li added that the “stagnation” from the United States may make it unlikely that China will take further measures to contain its coal consumption, which hit a record in 2021.

“The Chinese think there will be no climate trade-off between them and the United States,” he said.

President Xi Jinping promised last year that China would start cutting coal consumption by 2026, while government research centers predict that its coal-fired power generation capacity will increase by an additional 150 gigawatts between 2021 and 2025.

Amid concerns about economic growth and energy security, senior officials continued to stress that the low-carbon energy transition must be carefully managed.

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This week, Vice Premier Han Zheng described coal as a “heavyweight” for the economy, adding that China should “maintain minimal energy security on the basis of national basic conditions for coal dominance.”

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