BEIJING, China: Last week, President Xi Jinping said China will stop building coal-fired power plants abroad, while pledging to help counter climate change during his address at the United Nations General Assembly.
The policy, depending on its implementation, could significantly reduce the financing of coal plants in developing countries, and it came after intense diplomatic pressure was placed on China to help the world meet the carbon emissions goals set down in the Paris Climate Agreement.
Prior to Xi's announcement, Japan and South Korea made similar pledges earlier this year, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and U.S. climate envoy John Kerry urging China to follow its Asian neighbors.
In his pre-recorded video address at the UN, Xi also said, "China will support other developing countries in generating green and low-carbon energy."
Xi's announcement was lauded by Kerry, who called it a good start to achieving success at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgow, Scotland.
Alok Sharma, Head of COP26, also praised the announcement.
Xi's measured speech, which did not directly mention the bitter rivalry between China and the U.S., came after the first UN address of President Joe Biden, who warned of a new era of intense competition.
Last year, Xi repeatedly promised China will achieve its carbon dioxide emissions goal before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060.
But some experts stressed those targets are not ambitious enough, as
China, which is still heavily reliant on coal for its domestic energy needs, is the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter.
One of Biden's first actions after assuming office in January was to re-engage the U.S. in the Paris agreement.
Relations between the two largest global economies have dropped to their lowest level in decades, due to issues ranging from human rights to the origins of COVID-19.