China, the most polluting country on earth, aims to be climate-neutral by 2060. That is what the Chinese President and party leader Xi Jinping said in a video message to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Xi did not say what his country is actually going to do to achieve the target by 2060, but spoke of strong measures. The Chinese President called on all countries to work towards a “green recovery” of the world economy in the aftermath of the corona-andemic.
The Asian country is responsible for more than a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions, including from its many coal-fired power stations. As a result, its emissions are twice those of the US and three times those of the European Union.
In the Paris Climate Agreement, China had only promised that emissions would peak around 2030. Many analysts had already predicted that that target would be met, but China is now, for the first time, mentioning a specific year for climate neutrality. The European Union recently urged China to meet the target by 2050 and by 2060 at the latest.
The intention is seen as an important step in the fight against climate change, but Xi made no secret of his ambitions to reform the country into an innovative economy in recent years.
Many coal-fired power plants
Despite the enormous emissions, China is seriously tackling the climate problem, says CCeit climate editor Heleen Ekker. “For example, you already saw this at the climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009, even before Paris. At that time, it was precisely Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao who, together with President Obama, was one of the most important players. In Paris in 2015, too, Chinas positive stance together with the US was decisive
“Because there are so many of them and because the Chinese produce so much of our stuff, emissions have gone sky high in recent decades. Concerns about Chinese emissions are justified, partly because they have so many coal-fired power stations. But it is by no means the case that China is doing nothing about it, not least because they themselves are also suffering the effects of climate change
China at the forefront
Xis speech came shortly after that of US President Trump, who took the opportunity to criticise the Paris Climate Change Agreement once again. He spoke of a unilateral deal and accused China of “unbridled pollution”.
With the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris agreement, the European Union hopes to be able to play a leading role with China in achieving the climate targets.
EU climate commissioner Frans Timmermans responded positively to Xis announcement on Twitter.