ZME Science coverage of COP22

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin subtly criticized Donald Trump’s stance on climate change, reminding him of a Tweet in which the president-elect claims the Chinese “created” global warming.

Xie Zhenhua is a veteran of UN climate talks and in recent years, he has taken a more vertical position. (Pic: UN Photos)

Xie said that it was actually Republican US presidents starting negotiations on the climate.

“If you look at the history of climate change negotiations, actually it was initiated by the IPCC with the support of the Republicans during the Reagan and senior Bush administration during the late 1980s,” Liu said according to a Bloomberg story published Wednesday.

Trump did state that the Tweet was a joke, but it’s not the only instance he has spoken against climate change — and the Chinese. The US president-elect has repeatedly stated that the environment is not one of his priorities, and furthermore, that he considers global warming to be a hoax. His reasoning? Because it was cold some days.

In Marrakech, where world leaders are deciding the future of the world’s climate and how to best implement the Paris climate agreement, there is a lot of talk about Trump and his anti-science stance. Several times he has stated that he will do everything he can to destroy Obama’s legacy, including ripping the Paris agreement. The US is already likely failing its part of the deal, and with the Trump administration, things are expected to go even worse.

This is why China’s top envoy directly addressed this issue, repeatedly stating that the world trend is shifting to renewable energy and a sustainable future, and any wise leader will do the same.

“I believe a wise political leader should take policy stances that conform with global trends,” said Xie, in response to a question about how he would work with a Trump administration. “If they resist this trend, I don’t think they’ll win the support of their people, and their country’s economic and social progress will also be affected.”

It’s very rare for high-rank Chinese officials to make comments on the external policy of other countries, which makes the statement even more powerful. As unlikely as it seems, China is slowly assuming the role of the world leader in fighting climate change. In 2015, they invested more than the US and EU combined and despite basically building their economy on coal, they want to make the switch to renewables as soon as possible.