Diplomats in Paris were beaming when the world’s most populous country announced plans to start cutting its net CO2 emissions “around 2030”. But environmentalists were less optimistic, saying the commitment is much too vague. EURACTIV France reports.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang officially announced his country’s commitment to cut CO2 emissions during an official visit to Paris this week (30 June).
In his long-awaited climate plan, China states its aim of reaching the “peak of carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and making best efforts to peak early”.
China is currently the world’s worst climate polluter, responsible for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
French President François Hollande thanked Li Keqiang for having made the announcement in Paris, as a sign of his support and confidence in the success of the COP 21, according to sources close to the president.
China’s contribution was all the more expected because it could have a spillover effect on another big polluter country, India.
The country’s objective is to “lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% from 2005 levels, increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20% [and] increase the forest stock volume by around 4.5 billion cubic meters on the 2005 level,” according to the Chinese delegation.
China also plans to increase its forest stock by “about 4.5 billion cubic meters compared to 2005”, according to the Chinese delegation in Paris.
Li Keqiang stated that China’s climate action would be “driven by its sense of responsibility to fully engage in global governance, to forge a community of shared destiny for humankind and to promote common development for all human beings”.
The Chinese prime minister also assured the French leader of his commitment to reaching “a comprehensive, balanced and ambitious agreement” for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at the COP 21 in Paris this December.
China’s objective of reaching a CO2 emissions peak by “around 2030” was first aired in November 2014, in a joint statement with the USA.
But environmentalists have criticised the vague nature of the expression “around 2030”, which they say gives Beijing carte blanche to increase its emissions for at least another 15 years.
In April this year, Nicolas Hulot, the Special Envoy of the French President for the Protection of the Planet, said he could “not believe” that China and the United States would “leave it at that” in their greenhouse gas emissions reduction objectives. For him, the Chinese commitment is “totally insufficient”.
The United States, the second largest emitter behind China, confirmed its commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 26-28% between 2005 and 2025.
In early March, the European Union (12% of global emissions) was the first contributor to submit its post-2020 plan (a 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels).
The universal agreement expected at the Paris Climate Conference will replace the Kyoto Protocol from 2020. Its aim will be to keep global warming below +2°C, and limit its disastrous impact on the planet.
Nick Mabey, E3G’s CEO and Founding Director said, “China’s climate action plan reaffirms its commitment to pursue a lower-carbon development pathway driven by domestic interests. But it can do more. It must now integrate climate change actions into its ambitious development and economic reforms.”