China's long-awaited national plan on greenhouse gas emissions has now been published.
However, it represents little progress on the previously announced ambitions of the world’s biggest carbon emitter.
The reaction among analysts was that the new climate plan is disappointingly short of fresh details. The main targets of the updated nationally determined contribution (NDC) are insufficient to keep the world on course to hold global heating to no more than 1.5C. Climate campaigners say it is now time for the country to take more actions domestically to rein in greenhouse gas emissions this decade.
The new NDC is also far less than many analysts say China could easily manage. With its huge investments in renewable energy in recent years, the country has already made substantial changes to its high-carbon economy, and the plunging price of low-carbon technology should make the transition even easier, leading many analysts to conclude that China could, with not much extra effort, cause its emissions to peak in about 2025.
Belinda Schäpe, from the E3G thinktank, said the recent warning by the world’s leading climate scientists required nations to step up further than they were willing to do last year.
Li Shuo of Greenpeace said: “China’s decision on its NDC casts a shadow on the global climate effort. In light of the domestic economic uncertainties, the country appears hesitant to embrace stronger near-term targets, and missed an opportunity to demonstrate ambition. The planet cannot afford this being the last word. Beijing needs to come up with stronger implementation plans to ensure an emission peak before 2025.”
Helen Mountford, the vice-president for climate and economics at the World Resources Institute, said China needed to strengthen its new near-term targets and measures to get on a pathway to reach its 2060 carbon neutrality goal, and that this was within its reach.
“Our analysis shows that China can step up its efforts to reducing emissions while also enjoying economic growth and a more sustainable environment,” she said.
Bernice Lee, the research director for futures at the Chatham House thinktank, said: “We cannot sugarcoat it. It is disappointing and off the mark and not befitting of the world’s largest emitter. It is symptomatic of a broader trend/shortfall where major economies are not making the kind of cuts needed to get 1.5C within reach just yet. China has lowballed its target and missed a chance to be recognised as a global leader. The plan says emissions will peak before 2030 – for all our sakes we need that date to be far sooner.”