New US Envoy on Climate Urges China to Expedite Transition from Coal

John Podesta, the new U.S. envoy on climate change, is calling on China to speed up its green-energy transition and take its responsibility toward mitigating climate change more seriously. Even though China is still the largest greenhouse-gas emitter on the globe after overtaking the United States in 2006, Podesta believes the economic giant still has more online coal than it needs and that is healthy for the world.

China emitted 27% of the world’s entire greenhouse-gas emissions in 2020, according to the World Resources Institute’s CAIT database. The country also produces 12.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

During a recent visit to Tokyo, John Podesta, who is senior advisor to the U.S. president for international climate policy, applauded China’s actions at the Dubai COP28 conference where countries pledged to triple worldwide green-energy capacity through the decade. While China has taken impressive steps to transition away from fossil fuels, particularly through the installation of a record number of solar and wind power projects, Podesta said he hopes Beijing will speed up its green-energy transition schedule.

He noted that North America is historically the largest greenhouse-gas emitter on the globe and is currently working to decarbonize the energy sector, which is currently one of the largest emitters in the country. With China surpassing the U.S. as the globe’s top emitter in the mid-2000s, Podesta said the Asian nation has to “take its responsibility seriously.”

Podesta acknowledged that China is already deploying renewable energy infrastructure faster than any other country in the world, but je noted that it would need consistent communication to ramp up its efforts even further. Even though China and the U.S. don’t see eye to eye on many issues, climate change represents common ground they can agree on as both nations produce more emissions than the rest of the world combined.

Former senior advisor to the U.S. president for international climate policy John Kerry held a meeting with Chinese climate change envoy Xie Zhenhua in California last November. The two government officials published a joint statement calling for both countries and the rest of the world to speed up the adoption of renewables.

In a prior interview, Podesta said that he and the new China envoy on climate change, Liu Zhenmin, have promised to meet in person, continuing the two nations’ climate-change-related collaborations.

Beijing has pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2060 but has been criticized for permitting record numbers of new coal-fired energy plants in recent years.

It is likely to take some time for coal companies such as Alliance Resource Partners L.P. (NASDAQ: ARLP) to see their business dwindle to the point where it is no longer viable. Coal demand is still high around the world, and it isn’t surprising that China is still licensing new plants.

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