China, in Nudge to U.S., Makes a New Promise to Sort out International Warming

China on Saturday promised incremental steps to tackle climate change over the next decade, but signaled that it would not disclose all of its plans before taking the next steps from its main global rival, the United States.

At an online summit marking the fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, China’s leader Xi Jinping said China will reduce its carbon intensity by over 65 percent by 2030. Carbon intensity is a measure of greenhouse gas emissions in relation to economic activity.

Mr. Xi also said China would triple wind and solar capacity to over a billion kilowatts and expand its forests.

Mr Xi’s statement on Saturday came three months after he announced in September that China would reduce its carbon dioxide emissions, one of the major greenhouse gases that have warmed the planet since the beginning of the industrial age, to zero by 2060. China would reduce all emissions from the country by 2060 Remove atmosphere it couldn’t lower.

China, the world’s factory, is currently the world’s largest producer of gases for warming the planet. Whatever it is doing to cut its emissions is a key to combating climate change.

China’s greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, and Mr Xi’s statement on Saturday reiterated that they would continue to grow and peak “for some time” before 2030. The schedule that many climate lawyers had hoped for was not met: China would bring its emissions to the highest level by 2025.

Mr. Xi said nothing about setting an absolute limit on China’s carbon dioxide emissions and whether or how he wanted to reduce the country’s reliance on coal. China is by far the world’s largest consumer of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, and Mr. Xi has continued to expand coal-fired power plants at home and abroad.

The statement was a carefully coordinated move to demonstrate that China intends to move faster to a sustainable economy, without revealing many details, before a new administration in Washington takes power. “I think China is waiting for what the Biden government announces and can do,” said Jake Schmidt of the Defense Council for Natural Resources. “They are trying to signal that they will continue to push ahead with domestic climate protection measures, but they are also holding back.”

After the pandemic postponed the annual international climate negotiations for a full year, the online summit was intended to get countries to announce more ambitious climate plans in the short term. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations and one of the hosts of the summit, urged each country to divert funds to recover coronavirus from fossil fuels into climate-friendly sectors. “We cannot use these resources to take action that will burden future generations with a mountain of debt on a broken planet,” he said, calling on world leaders to declare “a climate emergency.”

“Can anyone deny that we are facing a dramatic emergency?” Secretary General Guterres said in his address.

Scientists have repeatedly stated that it is imperative to cut global greenhouse gas emissions in half within the next decade in order to stem the most catastrophic effects of climate change, including the spread of forest fires and flooding of coastal cities. In the days leading up to the summit, a handful of industrialized countries set emission reduction targets for the next decade. The European Union agreed with its member states on Friday to reduce emissions by 55 percent over the next ten years compared to 1990 levels. The UK had previously announced it would cut its emissions by 68 percent by 2030, and announced on Friday that it would stop funding fossil fuel projects abroad with taxpayers’ money. Canada said it would significantly increase its levy on carbon dioxide to $ 170 per ton.

Some smaller countries also made notable announcements at the summit on Saturday. Pakistan said it will stop building new coal-fired power plants by 2030, noting that it has already put on hold plans for some large coal projects. Barbados hoped that most homes on the island would have solar panels and electric cars on their roofs over the next decade, but said the dangerously high levels of debt after the pandemic made climate goals all the more difficult. In particular, neither France, the host of the Paris Agreement, nor India, a major source of emissions, have made any new commitments. And there were absences like Australia, Brazil and the United States.

The resigning Trump administration has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. reiterated in a statement that he would accede to the agreement on his first day in office and call an international summit within the first 100 days of his term in office.

Environmentalists had hoped Mr. Xi would pledge to reduce carbon intensity more, but the economic downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic may have tempered Beijing’s plans. Carbon intensity has traditionally grown with a country’s economy, and therefore any significant reduction requires extensive rewiring of the economy.

Li Shuo, a political analyst with Greenpeace, said China must act quickly to achieve what it has promised. He noted that China’s post-pandemic recovery package was “anything but green” as it continues to grow its coal-fired power plants and fund infrastructure projects that increase pollution.

“Five years after Paris, China’s progress remains fragile,” he said. “China’s announcement today is a salute to the Paris Agreement. But there is no time for champagne. The hard work starts tomorrow. “

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