Discover the promises that China takes to COP26 to debate the climate

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At the last minute, China revealed its new climate commitments to the UN conference in Glasgow (COP26). Below are some of the promises and questions raised by the world’s biggest polluter.

what Beijing promises

In its new contribution, announced on Thursday (28), China promised to reach its peak of emissions “before 2030” and carbon neutrality “before 2060”, commitments already publicly made by President Xi Jinping.

Your country is committed to reducing its carbon intensity (CO emissions2 in relation to GDP) by more than 65% in relation to 2005.

But China did not specify how much it would increase its emissions in absolute terms and whether it can continue to increase without limits until 2030.

China is also committed to increasing its share of non-fossil fuels to 25% of its consumption.

And it promises to increase its solar and wind power capacity, but does not specify how it will achieve its climate goals.

Is it enough?

According to environmentalists, these promises are not enough to limit global warming to less than two degrees, as the world promised to do in Paris in 2015.

Some had hoped that the most populous country on the planet would abandon coal and peak emissions in 2030 and reduce pollution from heavy industries in the next five years.

“If we wait until 2030 (to start reducing emissions), the curve to be followed between 2030 and 2060 is so rigid that many consider it science fiction”, analyzes Li Shuo of Greenpeace Asia.

The Importance of China

With more than a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, China’s commitments are more important than any other country.

The country has more than a thousand coal-fired power plants, that is, more than half of the world’s park. And there are others under construction.

For the American climate emissary, John Kerry, these power plant projects could reduce to nothing the efforts of the rest of the world to reach the climate goals.

electrical production

Despite its commitments, China — which produces 60% of its electricity from coal — has increased its coal mining in recent months to cope with the blackouts.

Although it promised that 80% of its electricity would be renewable by 2060, investments in this sector have been reduced.

And the nuclear segment barely represents 5% of the Chinese electricity balance.

According to experts, China was late in presenting its latest commitments due to the resumption of coal production.

“They waited until the last minute to be able to take the country’s priorities into account without damaging its international image too much,” said Li Shuo.

Beijing has pledged to stop funding coal-fired power plant projects and reduce its domestic output by 2026.

Trees a salvation?

China must increase its forests by 6 billion m3 compared to 2005 to absorb CO2, according to your last appointments.

But planting forests in a hurry threatens biodiversity, warns environmentalist Zhu Jinfeng. And this biodiversity is fundamental for the planet’s adaptation to warming.

The weight of politics

The communist regime barely supports international pressure.

Its climate emissary, Xie Zhenhua, explained in late October that Beijing hoped to see other countries’ pledges before publishing its own.

In a context of severe deterioration in its relations with the West, the Chinese power warned the United States that cooperation on climate issues could be affected.

China accuses rich countries of not helping poor countries enough to adapt to the measures required by warming.

President Xi, who has not left China since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, will attend the Glasgow summit via videoconference.

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