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China denies reports it obstructed G20 climate discussions

Reports that China obstructed discussions on tackling climate change at Group of 20 (G20) meetings last week in India are "completely inconsistent with the facts", China's foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

After three days of discussions on issues like cutting emissions and fossil fuel use, as well as climate finance to support poorer nations, the group of major nations failed to issue a joint communique or deliver any new pledges.

The group acknowledged in a statement after their talks that measures to address climate change were "insufficient".

Members of a European delegation said that China and oil-rich Saudi Arabia had backed away from making commitments at the meetings but China rejected that.

The foreign ministry said in a statement it "regrets" the failure to reach an agreement at the meetings, which was caused by "geopolitical issues" brought up by other countries "for no reason".

China, which accounts for more than half of global coal production, has bristled at calls to do more to cut greenhouse gases, saying its historical and per capita CO2 emissions are still lower than those of the United States.

The foreign ministry said the G20 should build political consensus among members and "fully respect the different development stages and national conditions of countries".

Parts of China, including its capital, have been battered this week by the heaviest rain in 140 years, the Beijing Meteorological Service said, the latest bout of extreme weather from around the world to raise fears about the pace of global warming.

China has pledged to bring its emissions to a peak before the end of the decade and become carbon-neutral by 2060.

But despite building record levels of new clean energy capacity, its fossil fuel consumption has continued to rise, with no plans to start cutting coal use until 2026.

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry visited Beijing last month in a bid to restore trust between the two sides and build momentum for the COP28 climate talks in Dubai at the end of the year.

© Thomson Reuters 2023.