WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday (Dec 17) that he believed pressure would grow on China to offer "something fundamentally more ambitious" in the fight against climate change than it has put on the table so far.
Asked at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank whether the Biden administration would be looking at more ambitious targets following last month's COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Mr Sullivan replied: "I think almost by definitions, we have to be more ambitious, because more ambition is required to get to where we want to go, which is to limit warming below 1.5 deg C."
Mr Sullivan said China is a big part of this as the world's largest emitter.
"In the months coming out of COP26, I think the focus will shift and the pressure will grow on China to come to the table with something fundamentally more ambitious than what they have put on the table so far," he said.
"I don't say that in some kind of competitive way, or challenging way, or threatening way, just the reality is that the only way to solve this problem - for China, as well as for the rest of the world - is for that country to step up more. There are other countries that will have to as well."
Cutting coal use was a major bone of contention at COP26, with countries finally agreeing to "phase down" consumption as part of their efforts to keep global temperature rises as close to 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial levels as possible.
China, the world's top coal consumer and producer, is responsible for more than half of global coal-fired power generation. The nation's coal-power generation is forecast to grow 9 per cent year on year in 2021, the International Energy Agency said on Friday.
Burning coal is the single largest source of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas heating up the planet.
China has already made a pledge to start reducing coal consumption, but will do so only after 2025, giving developers considerable leeway to raise generation capacity further in the coming four years.
At the Glasgow summit, China and the United States made a joint declaration committing to ramp up their cooperation on climate change as well as their own national plans. The world's two biggest emitters made a similar declaration that helped secure the Paris climate agreement in 2015.