China, coal and COP26: can the world’s biggest emitter give up its dirty habit?

When he was a little boy in the 1980s, Wang Xiaojun was taught to be proud of his home town of Lüliang in the north-western Chinese province of Shanxi. Shanxi is China’s biggest coal-producing region, and Lüliang was a significant base for the army during the second world war. Nestled in the mountains of the dusty Loess Plateau, Lüliang, a city of 3.4 million people, has had less to shout about in recent years. A series of corruption scandals in the city brought down several high profile officials shortly after…

‘Ecological civilisation’: an empty slogan or will China act on the environment?

This week, China took charge of hosting a major UN environmental conference for the first time, at the opening of Cop15 in Kunming. The world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter and largest consumer of natural resources might seem a strange choice to host talks to stop the destruction of ecosystems and mass extinctions of wildlife, but the conference marks a tipping point in China’s development and an international debut for “ecological civilisation”, a little-known phrase outside its borders with big implications for the planet. Amid uncertainty around whether President Xi Jinping…

Major UN biodiversity summit delayed for third time due to pandemic

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A key United Nations biodiversity summit has been delayed for a third time due to the pandemic, the Chinese environment ministry has announced, as environmentalists pledged the delay would “not mean taking our foot off the pedal”. In a statement, the Chinese ministry of ecology and environment confirmed that Cop15, the biggest biodiversity summit in a decade, would be delayed, and that negotiations for this decade’s targets will be split into two phases so that governments can meet face-to-face in Kunming, China, in the first half of 2022. The talks…