Climate: China submits, without convincing, its new commitments before COP26

China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs), has played for time. Only three days before the opening of the 26e Conference of the Parties (COP26), crucial in the fight against global warming, the country officially detailed, Thursday, October 28, its new commitments for the planet, much awaited. This new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) from Beijing incorporates the main commitments already made by Chinese President Xi Jinping: to reach its peak in emissions “Before 2030” and carbon neutrality “Before 2060”.

These commitments, posted on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website, also provide for the reduction of carbon intensity (CO emissions).2 compared to gross domestic product) by more than 65% compared to 2005. But while, in its previous NDC, China pledged to reduce its carbon intensity by between 60% and 65% by 2030 and reach its peak of emissions “Around 2030”, these new reinforced ambitions have not convinced all observers.

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According to the Paris agreement, signed in 2015 and which shows the ambition to contain global warming well below the + 2 degree mark and if possible + 1.5 degree compared to the pre-industrial era, the signatory countries must submit an upward revised NDC every five years.

The new contribution from China, responsible for more than a quarter of global GHG emissions, was therefore eagerly awaited before COP26, which formally opens Sunday in Glasgow (Scotland). Especially since the United Nations said on Monday that the new climate commitments made in recent weeks are still leading the world towards warming. “Catastrophic” of + 2.7 degrees.

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In its contribution, Beijing recalls that developed countries must “Assume their historic responsibilities and continue to take the lead in reducing emissions”.

China is also committed to increasing the share of non-fossil fuels to 25% in its consumption, against 20% in its previous NDC, especially with the increase of “Its installed capacity of solar and wind energy to 1.2 billion killowatts by 2030” and to increase his « stock » forest area of ​​6 billion cubic meters compared to 2005.

Little step

However, Beijing’s new contribution does not seem ambitious enough to many observers. “It casts a shadow over the global climate effort. In view of internal economic uncertainties, the country seems reluctant to embrace stronger short-term goals and has missed the opportunity to show ambition. The world cannot afford this to be its last word and Beijing must develop implementation plans ensuring peak emissions before 2025 ”Li Shuo, of Greenpeace China, wrote on Twitter.

For Lauri Myllyvirta, analyst at the Energy and Clean Air Research Center (CREA), the new Chinese NDC is setting President Xi’s commitments in stone, but “Does not shed light on what will be the trajectory of the coming decade in terms of emissions”.

Helen Mountford, vice-president of the World Resources Institute, sees it as a “Modest improvement” : “If the world is to have a chance to tackle the climate crisis, China, like other major emitters, must move from the politics of small steps to giant leaps”, she believes.

CNUCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa during an online press briefing Thursday evening declined to comment on the Chinese NDC, explaining that she had not had time to study it in detail. However, she considered that he was “Clear, for some time”, that China was hearing “Translate political announcements into its NDC” of President Xi.

She felt that it was now necessary to work to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality ” as soon as possible ” and tell China, “As in other countries, this is all very well, but how exactly are you going to do it?». They should also be encouraged to “Constantly revise their NDC” on the rise, she adds.

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For its part, Australia, the world’s largest exporter of coal, whose Prime Minister, Conservative Scott Morrison, regularly affirms its support for the mining and gas industry, also filed a new NDC on Thursday. As Mr Morrison announced earlier this week, the main addition is a net zero emissions target for 2050, but the contribution does not provide any specific details on how the country intends to achieve it.

The World with AFP

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Climate: China submits, without convincing, its new commitments before COP26