China and India’s leaders drop out of upcoming climate summit

In his first major international intervention since being re-elected president in March, President Xi Jinping met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Beijing on Monday to discuss a host of regional issues, including China’s vast and thorny border dispute, but also decided not to attend the upcoming UN Climate Change Summit, AP reports. At the event, held in China’s “Beijing Initiatives for Enhanced Action” (BIEA) initiative, the world’s top two leaders committed to reducing carbon emissions, but failed to narrow their differences and reaffirmed the goals of the Paris Agreement, instead backing off the US’s position on the language of a revision of that accord.

The agenda for the 10-hour meeting included a meeting between Modi and Xi on Monday, an acrimonious discussion between the two on Tuesday and further discussions that led to a signing ceremony on Wednesday. But most noteworthy was the decision by the two to not attend the coming international summit at the United Nations. The summit marks the first UN climate summit since President Trump announced in June that he would withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris Agreement. In a meeting with representatives from 11 countries on Monday afternoon, Modi said the summit is important but “China and India do not need to participate.”

The decision to not go to the climate summit is in keeping with the leadership of President Xi, whose policies are showing a clear contrast with the Trump administration. The Chinese leader has launched significant efforts to reduce the country’s emissions and is working toward turning the country into a low-carbon economy. Analysts see this as evidence that President Xi will continue to engage with the United States and avoid the destruction of the Clean Power Plan, which was put in place by the Obama administration but was removed by President Trump last month.

“The BRICS leader’s decision to not attend the United Nations Climate Change Summit is a signal of his continued willingness to build a climate-resilient multi-polar economic order in the face of the Trump administration’s unilateral ‘America First’ policies,” Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said in a statement.

The leaders of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which are part of the summit, announced a bold new climate initiative as part of the meeting on Wednesday: they announced an initiative for both countries to invest $200 billion in infrastructure that would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. “Signing the declaration today shows the powerful actions this group of countries will be taking to create the new clean energy economy,” Xie Zhenhua, vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, told AP.

“The Declaration was not simply a retreat from the Paris goals, it was a further reaffirmation of the new direction in which the world’s economies and economies of the developed world will be heading,” said Rajendra Pachauri, the former chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said in a statement. “All that China and India have now committed to is to invest $200 billion between them in developing green-energy jobs and technologies to further their own ambitions.”

The decision to not attend the climate summit has sparked criticism from some quarters, though a visit by California Governor Jerry Brown is expected to highlight how US involvement in the event could be severely undermined by President Trump’s retreat.

Read the full story at The Guardian and AP.

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