China reveals a plan to cut emissions that falls short of UN targets

The world’s largest polluter China reveals a plan to cut emissions that falls ‘well short’ of UN targets – despite Beijing pumping out a quarter of carbon into atmosphere

  • China’s latest plan would see them reach peak carbon emissions by 2030
  • Analysts have said the Chinese government were not being ambitious enough
  • Under the plans, China would only reach net zero emission ‘around 2060’
  • The UN says global emissions need to halve before 2030 to avoid catastrophe

China has promised to peak its carbon pollution before 2030 in a new plan which experts say is still not enough to prevent climate catastrophe.

Analysts say the proposal by the world’s largest polluter will not help in preventing temperatures rising by more than 1.5°C (2.7°F) this century, a target set by nations including China as part of the Paris cliamte agreement in 2015.

In a new emissions cutting plan submitted to the United Nations days before the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the CCP said it would peak its carbon emissions before 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2060.

The Chinese government also pledged to slash its emissions intensity – the amount of emissions per unit of economic output – by more than 65 per cent.

Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, said that while the plan formalised targets set at the Paris summit in 2015, it had little detail on how emissions would change this decade.

China’s President Xi Jinping will not be attending the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow and is facing calls for a faster decarbonisation of his country – the world’s biggest polluter

Current commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions put Earth on track for a 2.7°C (4.8°F) temperature rise this century, a stark United Nations report warned today this week (stock image)

Li Shuo, an analyst with Greenpeace Asia, said China’s proposal ‘missed an opportunity to demonstrate ambition’.

Mr Shuo added that China’s effort ‘cast a shadow’ on the global effort to combat climate change.  

Under the Paris Agreement’s ‘ratchet’ mechanism, signatories agreed to submit new and more ambitious emissions cutting plans – known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs – every five years.

While China industrialised decades later than western nations, its growth in recent years – largely fuelled by coal – has been so ferocious that it has eclipsed almost all other nations. It is now the world’s largest emitter by a wide margin (above) 

China had been a major NDC holdout, missing several submission deadlines during the year-long delay of COP26 due to the pandemic.

According to the document, published on the UN’s climate change website, China will increase its share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 25 per cent, up from the 20 per cent previously pledged.

It also plans to increase its forest stock by six billion cubic metres compared with 2005 levels and ‘bring its total installed capacity of wind and solar power to over 1.2 billion kilowatts by 2030’.

However it was not immediately clear how Beijing plans to draw down its emissions in line with what science says is needed to avoid catastrophic levels of heating this century.  

It was hoped its new plan could build momentum ahead of the summit in Glasgow, which begins on Sunday.

Last year, President Xi Jinping indicated that China would achieve carbon neutrality around 2060 and peak emissions around 2030.

Nick Mabey, chief executive of the E3G environmental think tank, said China’s new emissions plan was virtually ‘unchanged’ from previous promises.

Despite its relatively late industrialisation, China is still the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon since 1850, rebutting its insistence that climate change is due to historical emissions by Western nations

‘This lowers other countries’ confidence in the delivery of China’s deep decarbonisation pathway,’ he said.

The UN says greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut nearly in half by 2030 to keep 1.5°C (2.7°F) within reach.

This week it said countries’ latest pledges put Earth on course to warm 2.7C this century.

Its Emissions Gap report also called on countries to start slashing emissions immediately and to align their net-zero plans with the 1.5C pathway.  

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