China will be under pressure at COP26 climate meeting, which may be why Xi Jinping is staying home

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

NBC News has a story about the upcoming COP26 climate conference and China’s role in it. This is a theme I’ve been harping on for a while so it’s good to see one of major networks reporting on it.

For the next two weeks the United Nations climate change conference is being hosted in Glasgow, Scotland. And most eyes will be on the team dispatched from Beijing.

China is the world’s largest polluter, pumping out more greenhouse gases than every other industrialized nation combined…

China is coming under increasing pressure, not just because it is responsible for more than a quarter of global emissions, but because its promises to curb them have so far been less ambitious than those by the U.S., Europe and others…

The stakes couldn’t be higher. No matter what the United States and Europe do, the world cannot avoid damaging temperature rises “without China achieving its climate goals,” Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said.

It doesn’t matter what we do if China won’t cooperate. If only we could get Greta Thunberg or Taiwanosaurus Rex to deliver that message.

So is China about to jump on board at COP26? Not likely. As the NBC story goes on to point out, there’s good reason to think China won’t be making any big announcements anytime soon. In fact, they are currently cranking up the coal plants:

For weeks, blackouts have plagued millions of homes and businesses across 20 provinces.

Fallout from the crunch is a major worry ahead of COP26. Experts fear that the realpolitik of keeping the lights on means there’s less chance than ever of Beijing quitting coal in time. Indeed, Beijing has ordered all coal mines to operate at full capacity ahead of winter.

Jazz wrote about the Chinese power crisis last month. But the clearest indication that China isn’t about to commit to anything new is that Xi Jinping is not planning to attend COP26.

China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are set to snub this week’s COP26 summit on climate change in Glasgow.

Their absence is especially significant given their nations’ contributions to global emissions, with China producing an estimated 28% and Russia 5% of global CO2 output.

The Kremlin confirmed last week that Putin would not travel to Scotland for the summit, while China is said to be planning to send its special envoy on climate change instead.

Xi hasn’t left China since the start of the pandemic. He could surprise everyone, but at least for now it appears we’re having a climate conference and the authoritarian leaders of two countries representing 1/3 of global CO2 emissions won’t be there. That seems like a pretty significant flaw in the plan.

Even the US Special Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, has admitted we can’t get anywhere on emissions if China won’t join the effort and right now it seems they’re not. Here’s Kerry’s appearance on Morning Joe last month. This is already queued up to his statement about China.