China’s game-changing pledge could boost global momentum on climate action
Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the UN General Assembly via video.
(23 September 2020) - Chinese President Xi Jinping used the global platform of his address to the UN General Assembly yesterday to announce China’s intention to step up climate action ahead of COP26.
China has committed to scale up its NDC through more vigorous policies and measures. President Xi said China would peak emissions before 2030 (an improvement from the previous ‘around’ 2030), and to be carbon neutral before 2060 (a new target). This could be the boost needed to get global momentum on climate action.
Under the global climate Paris Agreement, countries are expected to submit enhanced national climate plans (or Nationally Determined Contributions - NDCs) to the UN in 2020. These NDCs should collectively be ambitious enough to keep global warming to 1.5℃.
WWF-China Chief Programme Officer Mr. Fei ZHOU said: "China’s targets of carbon emission peaking before 2030 and neutrality before 2060 echo the spirits and requirements of the Paris Agreement. The new aspiration announced by President Xi reflected China’s unswerving support and decisive steps to enhance climate ambition. They demonstrate China’s due responsibility as a major emitter contributing to advance global green growth and to protect our beautiful planet."
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF global lead for climate and energy welcomed the news saying it sent a strong political signal of intent to other countries. “This is potentially a game-changer. By announcing their bold intentions now, China, as the world’s biggest producer of greenhouse gasses, is showing emerging leadership on climate change. China’s move will put pressure on other big emitting countries to also take bold action. So far, few countries have submitted enhanced NDCs, and none of them are big emitters.”
The affirmation of the role of the Paris Agreement in global climate action was also welcome. “In a time when multilateralism is being challenged, it was pleasing to see President Xi urge all countries [to] take decisive steps to honour their commitments. The climate crisis knows no boundaries so only collective action will ensure we avoid the worst consequences,” he said.
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