China and the US are set to sign a $US700 billion agreement on coal development, including the construction of more than 1,000 new coal mines.
The deal was signed on Wednesday in Beijing by Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yi and US President Donald Trump.
Mr Trump, who has repeatedly criticised China’s environmental policies, said the deal will help China “meet its environmental responsibilities and take advantage of opportunities”.
“I think that coal will be an important element of China’s future economic growth,” he said.
The agreement is subject to a number of conditions, including that China “maintain its commitment to sustainable development”, and “continue to work towards sustainable development and environmental protection”.
It is also expected to include $US400 billion for new energy projects, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), the export of electricity from coal and the development of renewable energy.
“Coal will be a huge part of our energy mix,” Mr Trump said.
I mean, they’ve got the world’s third largest coal reserves.””
But the country also has tremendous natural resources.
I mean, they’ve got the world’s third largest coal reserves.”
Mr Trump’s praise for China’s efforts to reduce air pollution is likely to be welcomed by China’s own environment ministry.
“This is an important step forward to China’s coal development,” ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said.
“We welcome this agreement as a way to help meet the country’s environment obligations.
China will continue to work to develop its energy sector in a sustainable way.”
The deal comes as Mr Trump and Mr Xi also sign a series of other trade deals, including one aimed at increasing US-China trade, which could see the US take a bigger share of Chinese exports in the coming years.
Mr Xi is also likely to sign the China-Europe free trade deal this month, which would see US firms in Europe be allowed to trade with the European Union.
“The President has made clear that the United States will work with China on economic, social and environmental issues,” Mr Zinke said.