China has, this week, added to the global momentum for climate action by delivering a bigger than expected offer to this year’s international negotiating process.
China committed to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by around 2030 and has emphasized a desire to meet that target date even sooner.
China also committed to boost its clean energy output and forestry volume.
Although details about how much the nation’s emissions will peak are yet to be defined, the world’s most populous nation has also delivered stronger than expected language about its carbon pollution, saying it expects to reduce its carbon intensity by 60-65% from 2005 levels.
This strong signal from China adds to diverse and widespread calls for climate action. In the last 30 days the world has seen the Pope’s moral call for an end to fossil fuels, the Dutch government ordered to cut carbon emissions, a G7 announcement to decarbonise totally this century and a report comprehensively showing that taking on climate change is our biggest health opportunity.
Driven by the government’s economic structural reform, public concerns about air pollution and energy security, and growing evidence of global warming-driven extreme weather impacts, China has put itself on a path to a major shift away from dirty fuels and from the business-as-usual pathway.
Considering China’s use of coal is plummeting and its renewable sector is soaring to record growth, the county’s world leading clean energy transition remains poised to accelerate given it makes absolute sense on economic, environmental, health and climate grounds.
With China and the EU stating they will “work together” to reach an ambitious and legally binding agreement in Paris, and with businesses, investors, faith groups, and citizens moving away from fossil fuels and investing in renewables those few governments still dragging their feet are looking ever more lonely and deluded.
Today’s announcement should give rich countries incentives to deliver their pledged US$100 billion to help poor countries cope with climate change, and should also be a call for governments like Canada, Japan Australia and members of the US Congress to stop using China as an excuse for inaction, and to get on with the transition to a clean future.