A commuter wears a protective mask while waiting at a traffic light during a seasonal sandstorm on April 15, 2021 in the Central Business District in Beijing, China.
Kevin Frayer | Getty Images News | Getty Images
China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, has made climate change commitments and set ambitious targets to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. But until now, details on how to get there have been scarce.
Like many major countries, China missed a July 30 deadline to submit new climate commitments to the United Nations.
That could change this year at COP26, the parties’ 26th UN climate conference, according to Gavin Thompson, vice chairman of Wood Mackenzie Asia Pacific.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has reportedly received a personal invitation to COP26, but has not confirmed his attendance.
In a September 2 blog post, Thompson outlined five things to expect from China at the upcoming summit in the Scottish city of Glasgow.
Give a step-by-step plan
Formal submission of China’s national climate targets before COP26, which begins on October 31, is a “critical step” Beijing appears to be ready to take now.
“We should expect much more on how this will be achieved, with important targets for all Chinese provinces and economic sectors,” Thompson wrote.
Wood Mackenzie expects China to need an almost “complete transformation of the way energy is produced and supplied,” he added.
Despite pressure from the international community, China has insisted on charting its own course towards net-zero emissions and will continue to do so, Thompson said.
China’s coal-fired power plants are unlikely to be banned before 2025, he predicted. The country’s five-year plan still includes support for carbon-intensive coal.
“The twin goals of energy security and economic growth will fuel China’s drive for flexibility in meeting the targets,” he said.
Still, China is investing in renewable and clean energy as it works towards its goal of peaking carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.
Against carbon limit tax
Busy richer countries
China has long believed that the responsibility to reduce global emissions rests with the more developed countries, Thompson said.
“You broke it, you make it,” he wrote of Beijing’s stance, adding that their stance “is not without justification.”
Shifting the blame onto richer countries also has potential economic benefits for China, as it dominates the supply and processing of most clean technology raw materials.
“By increasing pressure on developed countries to tackle climate change more urgently, both domestically and through increased financial support to poorer countries, Beijing is counting on many of the economic benefits likely to flow back to China,” the WoodMac said. note.
Position yourself as a leader
Beijing attempted to present itself as a global leader on climate change in 2020 when the Trump administration left that position vacant, Thompson wrote. Under former President Donald Trump, the US withdrew from the Paris climate accord signed in 2015.
But with the Biden administration taking a “radically different approach”, China will now have to work harder to become a true leader.
“This should encourage bolder policies on carbon and technology, for without them China’s reputation and global standing could be eroded by US ambition,” he wrote.
The US and China held talks on climate change last week, but tensions between the two sides emerged when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said cooperation on climate action cannot be separated from the broader relationship, Reuters reported. .
US climate envoy John Kerry responded by telling Chinese leaders that climate change is more important than politics.