China has submitted a revised plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions before the end of this current decade. Experts say that the country that produces 27 per cent of global emissions has failed to go further and demonstrate leadership at a critical moment for the planet.
The new proposal comes three days ahead of the COP26 summit in Glasgow that begins on Sunday. Under the revised plan, Beijing promised that its carbon dioxide emissions would peak before 2030. China said that that it would aim for “carbon neutrality” – or no net emissions of CO2 – before the year 2060.
In the plan submitted to the UN on Thursday, China said, “As President Xi Jinping reiterated, to address climate change is not at others’ request but on China’s own initiative. It is what China needs to do to achieve sustainable development at home, as well as to fulfil its due obligation to build a community with a shared future for mankind. China will implement a proactive national strategy on climate change.”
To achieve its target, China said that it will lower CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by more than 65 per cent from the 2005 level.
It will also increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to approximately 25 per cent. China has also pledged to increase the forest stock volume by 6 billion cubic meters from the 2005 level and bring its total installed capacity of wind and solar power to more than 1.2 billion kilowatts by 2030.
Beijing’s coal problem
As well as new solar and wind farms, China is also planning to build new hydroelectric dams on the upper reaches of the Yangtze, Mekong, and Yellow rivers, and make more use of new-generation nuclear technology, including small-scale offshore reactors.
China also vowed to reduce coal consumption between 2025 and 2030. Coal, which is considered one of the most polluting of fossil fuels, accounts for more than 60 per cent of China’s energy supply. But with the country’s ongoing energy crunch, it is unclear how it will cut down on coal consumption in the near term.
Last month, China announced that it would stop financing new coal power projects abroad – a move seen as a “game-changer” given that Beijing is the biggest backer of coal power projects in the world.
The plan said, “China has made significant progress in fulfilling its commitments in an active and pragmatic manner.”
Climate watchers have been looking closely for signs that China, the world’s biggest source of climate-warming greenhouse gases, might make more ambitious pledges ahead of the Glasgow talks.
Also putting another damper to China’s involvement in the push for climate action is the absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping from the meeting.