Will China Really Turn on Climate?

Will China Really Turn on Climate?

What the President of China, Xi Jinping, said during the United Nations General Assembly

China aims to reach peak Co2 emissions before 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2060, strengthening its greenhouse gas reduction target. This is why it will budget for an increase in spending on green technologies over the next five years, to overturn the reputation of being the worst emitter on the planet. This was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaking on video during the United Nations General Assembly. Xi, Bloomberg reports, also urged all nations to work for a greener economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. While he didn't expose any other details, Xi's announcement implies that China's emissions will have to drop sharply to reach net zero in less than 30 years after peaking in 2030.


"Humanity can no longer afford to ignore nature's repeated warnings and follow the beaten path of resource extraction without investing in conservation, pursuing development at the expense of protection, and exploiting resources without restoring them," Xi said in a statement. speech via video link.


China is the world's leading source of carbon dioxide, responsible for about 28% of global emissions, according to the BBC .


Analysts believe the Chinese move is attributable to a desire for discontinuity with US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. "Xi Jinping's climate commitment to the United Nations, minutes after President Donald Trump's speech, is clearly a bold and well-calculated move," Li Shuo, a Chinese climate policy expert with Greenpeace Asia told BBC. It demonstrates Xi's constant interest in exploiting the climate agenda for geopolitical purposes ”.

Xi did not provide further details on what carbon neutrality means or provided further information on how China's commitments under the Paris Agreement will evolve. His announcement is proof that the leadership's next five-year plan will seek to accelerate the deployment of clean energy.


The plan for 2021-2025, which is expected to be released in March, will seek to balance coal-fueled economic growth with the need to contain pollutants that damage the atmosphere, Bloomberg noted. The government has tried to limit the use of fossil fuel in recent years by increasing the production of renewable energy. As a result, it is currently on track to deliver on its commitment to peak energy sector emissions by 2030, according to BloombergNEF.


Achieving net zero carbon emissions, however, requires huge investments. According to an estimate released this week by analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., the country would need to spend $ 5.5 trillion, or approximately $ 180 billion annually, to achieve that goal by 2050. The use of fossil fuels and the upgrading of frontier technologies would need to be drastically reduced to offset remaining emissions, including carbon capture, ”Bloomberg notes.


Glen Peters of the Center for International Climate Research stressed that the 2060 target – if it succeeds – could keep alive the prospect of keeping the global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees, Axios said.

According to a note released by Wood Mackenzie analyst Alex Whitworth, “the largest carbon emitter in the world has finally moved from its long-term position of having limited responsibility for reducing global emissions as a developing country, to assume clearer leadership in tackling climate change ”.

"China's upcoming 14th five-year plan has the potential to be the most important document in the history of the global energy market," Gavin Thompson, another Woodmac analyst, said in his note. And that's just one of many challenges: China's coal-fired fleet is very young and new ones are still being built, Axios recalled.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/energia/la-cina-svoltera-davvero-sul-clima/ on Sun, 27 Sep 2020 06:01:08 +0000.