China would be willing to contribute to compensation for poorer countries for losses and damage caused by climate change, its climate envoy Xie Zhenhua said on Wednesday at the Cop27 conference.
Mr Xie said China had no obligation to participate, but stressed his solidarity with those calling for more action from wealthy nations on the issue, and outlined the damage China had suffered from climate-linked weather extremes, Reuters reports.
The move, on the summit’s Finance Day, comes amid international scrutiny of the process, also known as climate reparations.
The term has caused controversy, with some commentators suggesting that increasing payments by developed countries under such a banner could be divisive and a distraction from slashing emissions.
However, the payments to vulnerable countries are not designed to recognise historic emissions by developed nations but instead help to create a conduit for wealth from rich countries to help protect places facing imminent climate disaster.
China is designated by the World Trade Organisation as a developing country, despite having the world’s second-largest economy.
Last month, United States special envoy John Kerry told reporters China should contribute its own funds to loss and damage, “especially if they think they’re going to continue to go on to the next 30 years with increasing their emissions”.
Mr Xie said that Mr Kerry, “his friend for 25 years”, had not raised this issue with him during informal talks at the climate conference this week, according to Reuters.
He said China already contributed billions of yuan to developing countries to help with their mitigation efforts.
“Our attitude is very constructive and active,” he said.
After US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this August, China said it would halt all talks with Washington on climate, despite unveiling a pact with the United States at Cop26 in Glasgow last year to cooperate on tackling the climate crisis.
On Wednesday, Mr Xie said Ms Pelosi’s visit had “hurt Chinese people’s feelings” but noted that informal discussions and personal correspondence with US delegates had continued.
“The door is absolutely closed by [the US],” he said.
“It is we, China, who are trying to open it.”