Opinion: US does not get to dictate terms of engagement with China in climate or any other area
Published: Aug 31, 2021 01:22 AM

File Photo:VCG

During his planned trip to China, US special climate envoy John Kerry "will press Chinese leaders to declare a moratorium on financing international coal-fired projects," the Wall Street Journal reported.

Here again, US unilateralism is dictating the terms to other countries according to its own political interests and trying to force others from an alleged position of strength.

The US believes it can smoothly shift the gears on the trilogy of "compete, cooperate and confront" China. However, the China-US engagement should not be dictated by Washington.

Right after the Biden administration release of its 90-day report on the origins of the coronavirus, which is part of its China smear campaign, it has turned its attention to press China on climate change issues. This has emerged as an important area of potential cooperation between the US and China despite rising tensions.

It is apparent that a global crisis like climate change is best addressed by the global community united as one, and with the support of both China and the US, the world's two largest economies and emitters of carbon dioxide.

However, any cooperation between China and the US can only take place on the grounds of mutual respect and negotiation on equal footing. One side prescribing a list for the other to conform does not fit in today's world. 

While the US continues lambasting China in other fronts including trade, technology and human rights, it has worsened high-level relations to cooperate with China on climate change.

China has manifested its commitment to address the issue of climate change and has announced its carbon emission reduction goals to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

Those commitments are made in front of the international community and China has been implementing energy cooperation projects under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative in an open manner and following strict green development standards.

A January report by the International Institute of Green Finance showed that in 2020, new-energy projects such as wind, solar and hydropower have for the first time become the primary target for China's overseas energy investment, rising to 57 percent from 38 percent in 2019.

At the same time, the US' pledge to reduce emission at double the pace of what was announced by the Obama administration, has met some serious scrutiny. Needless to say, the country needs to rebuild its image in the international community after a four-year-long backpedaling by the Trump administration.

Besides green financing, China's pivotal role in fostering a global shift toward renewable energy is manifested in its role as the global supplier of new-energy products. Nearly 70 percent of all global photovoltaic products are supplied by Chinese companies. 

China has earlier emphasized the installation of renewable energy products. In Pakistan, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor includes not only coal-fired plants, but also hydropower stations, wind farms and solar installations. 

There is no need to reject or even criticize coal-fired power plants. For many developing countries, their shift toward renewable energies cannot be completed overnight, and the economic costs and development stages need to be factored in to achieve a practical and early result. Coal-fired plants address their energy shortages in a cost-effective way and their development needs should not be denied.

This is especially true when the funds promised by developed nations, which reached $100 billion annually before 2020, are long due.

China has also been researching on clean-coal technology and sharing it with developing countries.

Chinese companies led the construction of the 600 MW Hassyan Clean Coal project in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, powered using clean coal and high technology and the first clean coal energy plant in the Middle East. The project's design, which also had the participation of American and French companies, has the highest environmental protection standards.

The US needs to stop its unilateral approach to cooperation with China on climate change as it does not get to dictate the terms .

The article was compiled based on an interview with Gong Ting, associate research fellow, China Institute of International