The Chinese president surprised Tuesday by announcing that his country, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, was aiming for carbon neutrality in forty years. “We aim to start lowering CO2 emissions by 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060», Declared President Xi Jinping in a virtual speech to the UN General Assembly.
Achieving carbon neutrality requires offsetting the last emissions that cannot be avoided by capture and storage techniques that remove it from the atmosphere.
Beijing, which ratified the global agreement reached at the end of COP21 in 2016, will increase its climate commitments under the Paris climate agreement, he added. “Humanity can no longer afford to ignore nature’s repeated warnings and walk the beaten path of resource extraction without investing in conservation, further development at the expense of protection and exploitation. resources without restoration“, Said the Chinese president.
Chinese greenhouse gas emissions – GHGs, responsible for global warming – have increased by nearly 55% in ten years. According to the Global Carbon Atlas, which takes stock of CO2 emissions by state, China emitted around 10 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018, almost twice as much as the United States (5.4 billion tonnes). Coal occupies an overwhelming share in its emissions. However, if we look at pollution per capita, China, with its approximately 1.4 billion inhabitants, arrives in 39e position, and the United States 12e, still based on 2018 data.
«All countries must take decisive action to honor this agreement“, Declared President Xi on Tuesday. A remark most certainly addressed to the United States, the second largest transmitter on the planet, which must formally withdraw from the Paris agreement in November. For Li Shuo, climate diplomacy expert at Greenpeace, the Chinese president’s announcement, which came minutes after US President Donald Trump’s speech, was “clearly a bold and well-calculated decision». «This demonstrates Xi’s continued interest in leveraging the climate agenda for geopolitical purposes.», Commented the analyst quoted by the Reuters agency.
Reducing net carbon emissions to the atmosphere by mid-century to zero is essential to limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C, compared to the pre-industrial era, according to climate experts for the ‘UN (the IPCC). Of course, the 2060 target set by China is less ambitious than that of Europe, which targets 2050. But “cis arguably the closest realistic date for China“, Says Neil Hirst, researcher at Imperial College London, quoted by AFP. “This is a big challenge that will involve shutting down or renovating a large number of relatively modern fossil fuel power plants.», He points out. Li Yan, of Greenpeace China, believes that it is «d’a very positive signal during a difficult year for the environment and global cooperation.»
It remains to be seen what policies Beijing will initiate to meet this goal, China is already the world’s largest market in the renewable energy sector. For Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, former vice-president of the IPCC quoted by AFP, China should also be “consistent», And in particular to stop financing coal-fired power stations or other fossil-fueled infrastructures in Africa.