China and the Countdown to COP26
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China and the Countdown to COP26
7th June 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
In November, Glasgow will be hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). With the presidency in its hands, the United Kingdom is keen to make a success of it and see countries across the world adopt more ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions.
The United States’ renewed commitment to tackling climate change under the Biden Administration ought to raise hopes that progress will be made. However, in order to succeed, another big emitter – the People’s Republic of China – will need to get on board.
In recent years, Beijing has made much of its action to tackle environmental problems on the world stage. As America pulled back from its own commitments during the Trump presidency, most notably the Paris Agreement, China stepped up and presented itself as a global leader. Last year, President Xi Jinping even set out ambitions to make his country carbon neutral by 2060.
Yet we have also heard Chinese diplomats warn that their cooperation on climate change is conditional. That to work together on this issue, governments must stay silent on matters it regards as contentious, such as human rights in Xinjiang. These threats are not completely meaningless. After weeks of deteriorating relations over human rights concerns, culminating in Beijing sanctioning British parliamentarians, China then decided to withdraw from a key meeting in the run up to COP26.
How can we make sense of this? To explore China’s commitment to climate change and its role in the forthcoming climate change talks in Glasgow, the Henry Jackson Society’s Asia Studies Centre is delighted to be joined by Geraint Davies MP, Dr Heidi Wang-Kaeding, and Dr Sam Geall.
Geraint Davies MP is the Labour Member of Parliament for Swansea West. He is Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Air Pollution and is a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China.
Dr Heidi Wang-Kaeding is a Lecturer in International Relations at Keele University. Her research explores China’s role in global environmental governance. She is the author of China’s Environmental Foreign Relations (Routledge, 2021).
Dr Sam Geall is Acting CEO of China Dialogue, Associate Fellow at Chatham House and Associate Faculty at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex. He edited China and the Environment: The Green Revolution (Zed Books, 2013).
Gray Sergeant is a Research Fellow in the Asia Studies Centre. He studied International Relations and History at the London School of Economics and went on to complete a Master’s in Chinese Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Most recently, he completed a one year Mandarin language programme at National Taiwan University. Prior to joining HJS, Gray held various positions including campaign roles for the Labour Party in, as well as working in the UK Parliament. In addition, he spent several years in human right advocacy, with a specific focus on Tibet. In 2017 he co-founded Hong Kong Watch, which monitors freedoms and the rule of law in Hong Kong, and is currently the organisation’s Chair.
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