President Xi Jinping is set to miss the Cop26 climate conference in Scotland this month, according to a report.
The Chinese president is not expected to travel to Glasgow for the summit in a blow for world leaders hoping to set ambitious new climate targets, including limiting global warming to 1.5C.
China’s emissions exceed all of the world’s developed nations combined and Mr Xi’s absence comes amid growing concern that the Cop26 summit will not be a success.
According to The Times, Boris Johnson has been informed that Mr Xi will not be attending.
The source told the newspaper: “It is now pretty clear that Xi is not going to turn up and the PM has been told that.”
“What we don’t know is what stance the Chinese are going to take. They could go to the G20 [summit in Rome on October 30-31] with new commitments but that is now looking less likely.
“The truth is that unless China comes with new commitments, we’re not going to be able to keep 1.5 degrees alive.”
The UN conference runs between Oct 31 and Nov 12. Organisers hope that countries will agree on key climate change pledges as part of a co-ordinated global effort to prevent environmental disaster.
Countries are expected to publish targets, known as nationally defined contributions, before the summit. However, only half of the G20 countries have put forward their plans, The Times reported.
Australia’s prime minister on Friday withdrew a threat to boycott the summit, describing the meeting as “an important event”.
“I confirmed my attendance at the Glasgow Summit, which I’m looking forward to attending,” Scott Morrison told journalists.
A number of world leaders will miss the event, however. Vladimir Putin might not attend due to fears about coronavirus and Pope Francis is also expected to be absent.
Joe Biden, the US president, has confirmed he will be in Glasgow, but American climate envoy John Kerry on Thursday expressed pessimism about the summit’s prospects: “It would be wonderful if everybody came and everybody hit the 1.5 degrees mark now,” he said. “That would be terrific. But some countries just don’t have the energy mix yet that allows them to do that.”
The Queen will attend a reception at Cop26, joined by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.