At the opening plenary of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos on Tuesday (Jan. 17), the President of the People’s Republic of China said the Paris climate deal is a “hard won agreement” to which countries “should stick to, rather than walk away”.
The speech, covering also free trade, global cooperation and innovation, is a landmark for two reasons. First, it was the first time a top Chinese leader officially participates in the Davos gatherings, another sign of the increasing global standing of China after the G20 summit in Hangzhou last September. Second, it explicitly marks China’s engagement in climate action and leadership during a critical moment where the upcoming Trump administration is expected to downscale climate efforts both domestically and abroad.
China’s position on the Paris agreement was anticipated by the country’s special envoy for climate change on the same day. In an interview to China Daily, the climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua said that “China’s firm attitude to engage in global climate change actions will inject confidence amid a rising division between pro-globalization and anti-globalization”.
While China’s leader did not explicitly mention Donald Trump or the United States in his speech, the climate envoy said the new president-elect may shift attitude toward climate change after he takes office on Friday, noting that “Trump has softened his tone on whether climate change is real”. The global trend towards sustainable growth “is not something that can be reversed by a single political leader”, Xie Zhenhua said.
(Image: Xi Jinping, opening plenary at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 17, 2017. Photo credit: World Economic Forum)