China has criticised rich nations for making feeble efforts to counter global warming at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (“COP24”). The event, which took place on 2-15 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland, saw 196 states attend to negotiate the “rulebook” which will serve as the operating framework for implementing the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. However, tension arose when US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait appeared to “water down approval” of a UN report that stressed the importance of maintaining global warming to below 1.5C. The report further stated this desired temperature limit now appears unrealistic and a 3C limit appears more tangible. The four oil-rich countries refused to officially welcome the study at the COP24 but just "noted" it. Therefore, they were accused of shrugging off the magnitude of the report's findings. In a possible indirect response, China denounced certain wealthy states for not sticking to their pledges to lower emissions and grant the technological and financial support that was promised in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The situation reflects on a recurring debate in international climate negotiations. Developing countries often argue that developed countries should have stricter emission targets and provide greater aid for overcoming this environmental phenomenon since the latter have profited more from the use of fossil fuels and, therefore, historically contributed more to climate change. Poorer countries also insist that they should be granted more lenient targets as they are still ‘developing’.
Indeed, there was also global outcry when the US President infamously withdrew his country – the largest global carbon emitter after China – from the Paris Agreement. President Trump argued the agreement would harm the US’ economic performance. He also previously described climate change as “a Chinese plot to make the US less competitive”. Given the US’ exit from the international climate deal some see China, the world’s next largest economy, to be leading the fight against climate change. Indeed, this may be suggested by China’s criticism of those seemingly not abiding by their climate agreements.