China's Pledge to Be Carbon Neutral by 2060
Beijing / Shanghai, China, 31 October 2020
China is targeting peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by the year 2060, according to President Xi Jinping.
In an address to the United Nations General Assembly delivered remotely, Xi described the Paris Agreement on climate change as charting "the course for the world to transition to green and low-carbon development."
According to a translation of his remarks, Xi said that the accord outlined the "minimum steps to be taken to protect the Earth, our shared homeland, and all countries must take decisive steps to honor this Agreement."
"We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060," he said in Tuesday's address.
Xi's announcement has generated a great deal of interest, not least because China is an industrial powerhouse and the planet's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide.
"Increased investment in wind, solar, electric vehicle and battery storage technology deployment will almost certainly feature, and we can expect support for green hydrogen and carbon capture technology.
China is by far the largest investor, producer and consumer of renewable energy. One out of every three solar panels and wind turbines in the world are in China. It is also home to nearly half the world's electric passenger vehicles, 98% of its electric buses and 99% of its electric two-wheelers. The country leads in the production of batteries to power electric vehicles and store renewable energy on power grids. By 2025, its battery facilities will be almost double the capacity of the rest of the world combined.
China is the latest major economy to announce climate goals. Just last week, the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said it wanted to cut the EU's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels. The target, the Commission said, would put "the EU on a balanced pathway to reaching climate neutrality by 2050."
Xi's announcement was also clearly intended to have an international effect. It was widely seen as an assertion of global climate leadership at a time when the United States has abandoned the field.
The influence Xi's announcement may have on the US government will depend almost entirely on the results of the forthcoming US presidential election. Under a Biden presidency, Xi's announcement could propel a repeat of the Obama–Xi climate cooperation that did so much to boost multilateral cooperation in the lead-up to the 2015 Paris Agreement. The alternative election outcome is less promising.
Both in China and abroad, the decisions made in the coming months will shape the meaning and significance of Xi's announcement.
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Source: China's Pledge to Be Carbon Neutral by 2060