Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday was named 2020 “Climate Hypocrite of the Year” by British skeptics for touting the Paris agreement and encouraging global emissions reductions even as China fires up new coal plants.
The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum announced the second annual “award” with a cartoon of Mr. Xi holding a green mask as coal-fired plants discharged clouds of black smoke in the background.
“The General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party is a deserving winner this year for his smooth parading of ‘concern’ for the climate while all the time building hundreds of coal-fired power stations in China and around the world as fast as he possibly can,” the forum said in its announcement.
The dozens of nominees included The North Face, which rejected a jacket order from a Houston oil-and-gas company even though its outdoor wear and gear are made largely from petroleum products like nylon and polyester.
Also receiving nods were celebrities who sounded dire climate warnings while jetting around the world, including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and the British ice-dancing pair Torvill and Dean, who flew to Alaska for a television special to skate outdoors and explore “the effects of climate change,” according to ITV.
Even as China cranks up production of coal plants, Mr. Xi has promoted the 2015 Paris climate accord and announced plans to reduce China‘s emissions footprint.
In a virtual speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Xi pledged in September to achieve net-zero emissions before 2060, and said that carbon pollution would peak by 2030, a commitment made even as China undergoes what the Global Energy Monitor called “a new coal boom.”
After years of scaling back its production of coal plants, China in 2018 and 2019 “commissioned more coal power than the rest of the world combined,” running counter to the goals of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the briefing by the GEM and Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
“China‘s increase in new coal plant development comes as the IPCC has found coal power needs to fall 80% by 2030 to keep global warming below 1.5°C,” the report said. “China‘s continued pursuit of new coal plants could put the IPCC target for reduced coal power out of reach, even if the rest of the world phased out all coal power by 2030.”
The world’s largest greenhouse-gas polluter, China has also expanded its domestic solar and wind projects, and dominates the renewable-energy market, producing about two-thirds of global solar panels and half of wind turbines.
As part of his September pledge, Mr. Xi said China would increase solar-and-wind power to 1.2 billion kilowatts; reduce carbon-dioxide emissions per unit of Global Domestic Product by at least 65% from 2005 levels, and increase forest volume by 6 billion cubic meters from 2005 levels.
“It is important to encourage green, low-carbon ways of life and production, and seek development opportunities and impetus from green development,” Mr. Xi said, adding that China would “contribute even more to tackling the global climate challenge.”
President-elect Joseph R. Biden has pledged to reenter the Paris accord, which President Trump exited effective Nov. 4 over concerns that the nonbinding agreement would deliver a “draconian” hit to the U.S. economy while allowing China to continue to build coal plants until 2030.