Beijing says US return to Paris Agreement is not ‘return of the king’ but ‘return of the student who skipped school’

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has rubbished US suggestions that Beijing isn’t doing enough to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, insisting that Washington has yet to make a proper contribution to combat climate change.

Speaking on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the US was not in a position to criticize Beijing’s efforts to reverse climate change after Washington elected to leave the Paris Agreement in 2017. 

“The return of the US is not the return of the king at all, but the return of the student who skipped school. The US has not yet made a nationally determined contribution and has not given any explanation on how to fill the gap in the four-year action,” Zhao noted, referencing Washington’s return to the agreement into 2021 under President Joe Biden.

Zhao contended that China has been much more active in the field of climate change. “China’s actions and effectiveness in tackling climate change are obvious to all. China has made important contributions to reaching the Paris Agreement. Last year, it announced the carbon peak and carbon neutral vision goals, as well as new measures to increase the strength of nationally determined contributions,” he said. 

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Referencing studies, Zhao claimed that China’s commitment will help reduce global temperature rise by 0.2°C to 0.3°C.

Zhao’s comments come after an unnamed US State Department spokesman reportedly claimed that China has not yet embarked on a path that will enable the world to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and demanded that Beijing take more actions to reduce emissions.

On Wednesday, US envoy John Kerry flew to Shanghai to discuss climate change with his Chinese counterparts. He said China must “assume responsibility” for its part in the climate crisis, calling on Beijing to stop building coal-fired power stations and to stop financing coal ventures abroad.

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