UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Britain is not expecting Chinese President Xi Jinping to travel to Scotland for a climate conference and China has indicated it will send the country’s top climate envoy instead, Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward said on Thursday.
The U.N. climate conference, known as COP26, begins on Sunday and aims to spark much more ambitious global action – and the money to pay for it – as scientists warn that global warming is dangerously close to spiralling out of control.
China is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.
“The Chinese have indicated that they’ll be represented by their lead climate negotiator, Xie Zhenhua. So we understand that President Xi Jinping will not be coming,” Woodward told reporters at the United Nations in New York.
Xie was reappointed as China’s top climate envoy earlier this year following a three-year hiatus.
“We have been very clear as hosts that we welcome everyone to participate, but it will be in-person,” said Woodward, adding that about 140 global leaders were due to travel to Glasgow.
China has submitted updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to fight climate change, a U.N. registry showed on Thursday, formally boosting headline emission-cutting pledges but offering nothing new.
“We’re studying it, but we understand it’s in line with what China has previously indicated,” deputy U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.
He added that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that “all countries – with G20 in the lead – will need to continuously update their NDCs – not every five years, but every year – until we are on track for 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said it is “touch and go” as to whether COP26 will succeed in securing the requirements needed to limit the rise in the average global temperature to 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Nick Macfie)