China is uneasy leading the way on climate action without the help of the United States, according to an editorial in Chinese state media. After President Donald Trump signed his executive order rolling back the Clean Power Plan this week, an article ran in the Global Times critical of Trump’s moves. The editorial said, “…what the US is doing undermines the other countries’ dedication to implement the Paris Agreement.”
China relied on coal for development, but in recent years has made strides to build renewable energy plants and shut down coal mines. Even if they have a long way to go to fix pollution woes, one study showed their coal use likely peaked in 2014. Meanwhile Trump has touted the return of coal against evidence of the growth of renewable energy and even the reality of climate change.
So it’s not too surprising Chinese media lambasted Trump in a March 30 editorial. “Some Western media now pin their hopes on China to fill the vacuum left by Washington in the fight against climate change. But no matter how hard Beijing tries, it won’t be able to take on all the responsibilities that Washington refuses to take…Washington’s political selfishness must be discouraged,” it said.
The editorial pointed out China and the United States are the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emitters, but said China is still in the process of developing while America is a superpower with the technological edge to slash emissions. They said America’s attitudes will impact how people around the world approach the battle against climate change.
Global Times also put the pressure on Western media and the public to pressure Trump, saying “American opinion has enabled the country’s political and legal authorities to freeze the president’s Muslim ban. If it keeps up the same vigor, the Trump administration may not be able to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement.”