As the world’s biggest polluter, any success at COP26 all but hinges on China’s attendance. Yet with just 13 days to go until the conference, president Xi Jinping has still yet to commit.
After close to two years of grandiose sustainable rhetoric, the world’s leaders are finally set convene in Glasgow this November.
Marking the fifth UN climate summit since the Paris Agreement was made, 193 countries of an expected 200 have registered their attendance for COP26.
Widely expected to be the landmark event for accelerated climate action throughout the next decade, there are a few worrisome absentees in the 13 day run-up to the summit.
Chief among them is none other than the world’s biggest polluter, China, with president Xi Jinping still coy on who the nation’s delegate will be, or whether it plans to attend at all.
China’s attendance in doubt
When asked whether China had committed to be part of the vital discussions, COP26 president Alok Sharma stated, ‘no, not yet.’ It certainly doesn’t bode well that Xi Jinping hasn’t left the country since 2020 either.
Emitting as much as 27% of the world’s greenhouse gases – which is more than double the emissions of the US in second place – Sharma claims China’s presence will be ‘key’ in establishing a collective vision for future generations.
‘They [China] have said to me they want the COP26 to be a success,’ he revealed. ‘The ball is in their court. We want them to come forward and make it a success together with the rest of the world.’
Sharma is ‘very hopeful’ that China will join the rest of the G20 in the next weeks, but there’s a feeling that a recent alliance made by the UK, US, and Australia may have scuppered these chances.
Known as the Aukus alliance, an upcoming move will see the aforementioned trio build nuclear-propelled submarines to prevent China from expanding its military presence into the Indo-Pacific region.
Beijing recently denounced the plan as ‘extremely irresponsible’ and a ‘geopolitical gaming tool.’ Whether or not newfound tensions will deter Xi Jinping from committing to COP26 remains to be seen, but radio silence from China is certainly concerning at this late stage.