China unveils position ahead of climate talks in Egypt

China has called for targets to be translated into implementation at the annual UN climate negotiations (COP27) kicking off next week in Egypt. In a latest report titled “China’s Policies and Actions on Climate Change (2022)”, the Chinese government repeatedly emphasises the importance of fulfilling existing commitments, particularly in the areas of financing and adaptation. 

While the government publishes such reports every year, the 2022 edition has a special chapter on China’s “basic positions and ideas on COP27”. At the press conference where the report was released, Li Gao, the climate director at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), urged developed countries to “fulfil their annual funding commitments of $100 billion as soon as possible, instead of just submitting a report during COP27 that makes excuses for the delay in fulfilling such commitments”.

The chapter highlights China’s concern that progress on adaptation and financing has fallen far behind that on mitigation, making implementation of the Paris Agreement “unbalanced”. It also underscores the importance of upholding the Paris Agreement’s principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and nationally determined contributions (NDCs), to focus COP27 more on turning national commitments into concrete actions.

Reflecting this general message of “walking the walk”, the report lists a range of domestic climate actions, such as development of the national carbon market and climate adaptation strategies. Adaptation is given significant space in the report. Both the 2035 National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy published earlier this year and the Guidelines for the Preparation of Provincial Adaptation Programmes are featured as key climate policy items, along with actions in improving monitoring, risk management and enhancing climate resilience in key vulnerable regions.

China is unlikely to make fresh pledges ahead of this year’s climate talks, according to Reuters. Domestic concerns with security have tilted energy policies towards ensuring stability of supply, including adding coal-fired power plants as back-up power sources. At last year’s COP26, China and the US published a joint statement on a variety of climate collaborations, but China suspended these in August in response to the escalation of diplomatic tensions between the countries. The joint statement committed China to develop a national action plan on methane control which is yet to be published, but some observers are hoping that China will sign the Global Methane Pledge in Egypt.

Read China Dialogue’s report on the UN’s latest warnings about the inadequacy of global climate actions.