Two of the world’s largest economies — and by far the largest carbon contributors — have committed to stop financing the climate crisis. On Tuesday at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, the U.S. and China pledged to cut off financing for activities that fuel the climate crisis. These commitments are good news, especially as leaders struggle to build momentum for COP26 in November.
According to President Xi Jinping, China will no longer build coal-fired plants overseas. When this policy is implemented, China could cut off up to $50 billion in foreign investment. Consequently, this could mean the end of coal power exploration, given that China is currently the largest investor in coal-powered plants internationally. China has up to 47 coal plants planned in 20 countries; these plans may be canceled as financing is cut off.
While speaking to members of the press, Joanna Lewis, an expert on China, energy and climate at Georgetown University, elaborated on China’s climate promises. “It’s a big deal. China was the only significant funder of overseas coal left. This announcement essentially ends all public support for coal globally,” said Lewis. “This is the announcement many have been waiting for.”
As for the United States, President Joe Biden pledged to increase funding to underdeveloped countries to fight climate change. “In April, I announced the United States will double our public international financing to help developing nations tackle the climate crisis, and today, I’m proud to announce that we’ll work with the Congress to double that number again, including for adaptation efforts,” Biden said during his U.N. General Assembly address on Tuesday.
While the news of the U.S. increasing its support for underdeveloped countries is welcomed, the action needed by developed countries to fight the climate crisis is still below expectations. For instance, the U.S.’s current climate pledges amount to $11.4 billion annually, despite statements from the independent Overseas Development Institute estimating that the country would need to contribute $43.4 billion to reach its “fair share.”
Lead image via Patrick Gruban