China reiterates climate change commitments, says efforts underway
Updated 12:43, 23-Apr-2021

China, the world's largest developing country, has reaffirmed that its CO2 emissions will peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality will be achieved before 2060. 

The promise was reiterated by President Xi Jinping at Thursday's Leaders Summit on Climate, an important juncture in the global climate political process before the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties set for Glasgow, UK in November. 

"China has made cooperation in ecological civilization a priority of joint building Belt and Road and promoted a series of green initiatives," the president noted, adding that China will hold the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in October.

Controlling and curbing coal consumption

Xi told other world leaders at the summit that concrete action was already being taken. "China has integrated the goal into the ecological civilization construction and an action plan for hitting the peak of carbon emissions by 2030 is underway." 

"During the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) period, we will strictly control the growth of coal consumption and gradually curb the consumption during the 15th Five-Year Plan period," he added. 

Coal-fired power remains a major energy source in China, and the country has vowed to bring the share of coal in total energy consumption to under 56 percent in 2021.

The 14th Five-Year Plan, a key policy document that will heavily influence the nation's economic development in the next decade and beyond, outlined that energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) and carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP will be reduced by 13.5 percent and 18 percent, respectively, during the period.

Read more: 

How will China cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2060?

During China's annual Central Economic Work Conference held at the end of 2020, reducing carbon emissions was listed as one of China's eight key tasks to focus on in 2021.

Aerial photo taken shows a green belt along Yuxi River in Yulin City, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, May 24, 2020. /Xinhua

Aerial photo taken shows a green belt along Yuxi River in Yulin City, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, May 24, 2020. /Xinhua

Meanwhile, Xi noted that these are no easy tasks. "China's commitment is much shorter than that of developed countries."

The low-carbon commitment, it is estimated, requires China to make the transition from reaching its carbon peak to realizing carbon neutrality within 30 years, compared with the 60 years taken by most developed countries in the world.

He stressed that countries should honor promises on addressing climate change.

The Copenhagen Summit in 2009 set China's 2020 target of non-fossil energy consumption at 15 percent and entailed a 40 to 45 percent reduction of carbon intensity compared to 2005. China's statistics for 2019 are 15.3 percent and 48.1 percent, respectively, meaning the country exceeded and fulfilled the set targets ahead of schedule.

Compared with 2005, greenhouse emissions per unit of GDP had dropped 48 percent by 2019 in China, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, achieving ahead of schedule China's commitment to the 2020 targets.

Global cooperation vital

Xi also stressed the importance of global cooperation, calling for the international community to work together, instead of resorting to mutual accusation; to keep promises, instead of going back on them.

The president warned against fragmented and palliative approaches in conserving ecological environment.

Welcoming the returning of the United States to the multilateral governance on climate change, Xi said that China is looking forward to working with the international society, including the U.S., to advance global environmental governance.

Developed countries should make concrete efforts to help developing countries improve their abilities to cope with climate change, he added, stressing the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in the process.

Xi has repeatedly stressed the importance of upholding multilateralism, unity and cooperation to tackle climate change.

China and European countries have been working closely on the global fight against climate change, after former U.S. President Donald Trump announced in November 2019 to quit the Paris climate change agreement, which took effect one year later.

(At the invitation of U.S. President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the Leaders Summit on Climate via video link and delivers a speech titled "For Man and Nature: Building a Community of Life Together" in Beijing, China, April 22, 2021. /Xinhua)

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