By Sue-Lin Wong
BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Tuesday rejected a plan by U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to back out of a global climate change pact, saying a wise political leader should make policy in line with global trends, a rare comment on a foreign election.
The world is moving towards balancing environmental protection and economic growth, China’s top climate change negotiator told reporters, in response to a query on how China would work with a Trump administration on climate change.
“If they resist this trend, I don’t think they’ll win the support of their people, and their country’s economic and social progress will also be affected,” Xie Zhenhua said.
“I believe a wise political leader should take policy stances that conform with global trends,” China’s veteran climate chief said.
Trump has threatened to reject the Paris Agreement, a global accord negotiated by nearly 200 governments to battle climate change that takes effect on Friday.
Chinese officials are often hesitant to weigh in on foreign elections, although they will defend Chinese policies when attacked in candidates’ policy platforms.
Xie’s comments come as China plans to launch a national carbon trading scheme in 2017.
The scheme is on track and pilot programs have already traded 120 million carbon allowances with total transactions amounting to 3.2 billion yuan ($472.29 million), he added.
“It will take time for the market to be fully operational, but once it’s operational, it’ll be the largest carbon trading market in the world,” said Xie.
China’s coal consumption has declined as the world’s second-largest economy slows, but Xie said it was too early to decide if it had peaked.
China’s delegation of more than 80 negotiators will begin departing from Tuesday for global climate change talks in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh set for Nov. 7 to 18.
(Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
IMAGE: A coal-burning power plant can be seen behind a factory in the city of Baotou, in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region October 31, 2010. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo – RTSMVQ1