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David Fickling

Xi’s Coal Pledge Is Climate Followership, Not Leadership

It’s easy to announce the end of funding when there are no customers in the first place. More countries are finding good economic reasons to turn away from dirty energy.

Up in smoke.

Up in smoke.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

As a second act, it doesn’t quite match up to the promise of the original.

At last year’s United Nations General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to reduce his country’s emissions to net zero by 2060 and hit peak pollution by 2030. That was a genuinely striking commitment from a country that had long chafed at pollution controls. At this year’s meeting, he pledged to end the financing of coal-fired power stations overseas. That will have more of an immediate effect — but unlike last year’s announcement, it’s a fait accompli in all but name.