The Chinese government is to cease financing projects abroad based on coal-fired energy, says President Xi Jinping in a speech during the United Nations’ General Assembly on Tuesday.
"China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad," he says by videolink to the assembly in the UN building in New York City.
China has been under pressure from several countries to cease paying for coal-fired power plants in a series of African countries, among others.
Earlier this year, South Korea and Japan made similar pledges. The two countries and China are the only ones offering financing of large-scale coal projects abroad.
Both UN Secretary-General António Guterres and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry have urged China to follow the two others.
Xi also pledges that China will do more to help fight the climate crisis.
"We should foster new growth drivers in the post-Covid era and jointly achieve leapfrog development […] We need to improve global environmental governance, actively respond to climate change and create a community of life for man and nature," he says.
No country has more coal power plants than China, but the nation is spending huge sums transitioning its energy supply toward a greener direction.
At the same time, China has been funding fossil energy projects abroad on a large scale.
This is part of a big infrastructure plan meant to tie China more closely to countries in Asia and Africa.
Earlier this year, a report by a number of environmental organizations revealed that state-run Bank of China has been financing coal projects since 2015 for a total of USD 35bn outside China.
The country has said that its own coal consumption will start to taper off following 2030, and that the country must be carbon neutral by 2060.
"This requires tremendous hard work, and we will make every effort to meet these goals," Xi says.
Nearly 60 percent of China’s electricity is sourced from coal. In a new national five-year plan presented in March, China set a goal of generating 20 percent of its energy using renewable sources like wind turbines, solar panels etc. by 2025.