Climate Weekly: China talks the talk…

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President of China Xi Jinping (Photo: Kremlin)


It is arguably the most consequential event of 2019 for the climate: China’s belt and road summit. How Beijing invests its billions abroad will make or break the global carbon budget.

In recent years, China has gone on a coal power plant spree, with alarming environmental consequences.

Official documents are ramping up the green rhetoric, but will it be reflected in the closed-room deals with foreign leaders?

Quote of the week

“The belt and road initiative is not an exclusive club and it aims to promote green development. We may launch green infrastructure projects, make green investments and provide green financing to protect the earth which we all call home” – Xi Jinping, president of China

‘Climate debt trap’

Mozambique is in the grip of its second intense tropical storm in as many months. Cyclone Kenneth made landfall in the north of the country on Thursday, while relief workers battle to contain cholera among communities hit by Cyclone Idai further south.

The IMF was on hand with a $118m interest-free loan, but is it fair to expect victims of climate-linked disasters in poor countries to pay for reconstruction?

Campaigners are calling for debt relief and a climate damages tax to redress the balance.

Blue Cop

Oceans do not usually get a lot of airtime in UN climate talks, focused as they are on territorial emissions and the land we live on.

Chile is aiming to change that at this year’s summit, highlighting the major role they play in the carbon cycle on this mostly blue planet.

That could mean anything from ship emissions to seagrass planting projects, Natalie Sauer reports.

XR out – for now

Extinction Rebellion has stood down its London roadblocks after nearly two weeks, claiming partial victory. I shared some reflections with Politico Europe.

While its specific demands have not been met, the activist movement put climate change on more or less every front page and broadcast bulletin – in concert with a visit from Sweden’s Greta Thunberg and a primetime TV show from national treasure David Attenborough.

Look out for the independent Committee on Climate Change advice on the science of 1.5C warming next week – and more from XR in the months to come.

Climate conversations

The Paris Agreement always needed Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg – Andrew Norton, IIED

We need a Green New Deal for Europe – Michel Barnier, chief Brexit negotiator for the EU

US still in

New York City and Washington state announced ambitious climate policy packages, while Michael Bloomberg filled the US funding gap to UN climate negotiations.

Back to black

The coastal town of Whitehaven is planning what could be Britain’s last new coal mine. Sophie Yeo visited the site of the controversial project for DeSmog UK.


Listen to Amazon correspondent Fabiano Maisonnave in conversation with Karl Mathiesen about the challenges facing the world’s largest rainforest.

Read more on: Climate politics