China has announced that it will not build any new coal-fired power plants outside of the country, a decision that could be critical in reducing global emissions. President Xi Jinping made the statement in his address to the United Nations General Assembly. China has been subsidizing coal projects in countries like Indonesia and Vietnam as part of its Belt and Road program, a huge infrastructure project. However, as the world seeks to reach the Paris climate agreement’s commitments, it has come under pressure to terminate the financing. Mr. Xi said in a video clip at the annual summit, “China would increase up support for other developing nations in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.” The move could impede the expansion of coal plants in many developing countries under China’s Belt and Road Initiative; however, no further specifics were revealed (BRI).

China has funded railroads, roads, ports, and coal plants in several countries, many of which are developing nations, as part of the BRI. However, it did not fund any coal projects in the first half of 2021 for the first time in several years. China is also the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, and its domestic energy demands are largely met by coal. Mr. Xi referred to last year’s claims that China will reach peak emissions by 2030 and then move to carbon neutrality by 2060. US Climate Envoy John Kerry was “extremely happy to learn” President Xi’s cruicial decision.