China — by far the world’s biggest producer of greenhouse gas — has held back from a commitment to cut emissions within five years, in a step that has dismayed environmentalists.
The country accounts for 26 per cent of global emissions, compared with 15 per cent for the US and less than 1 per cent for Canada.
The 14th five-year plan, published in Beijing on Friday [March 5th], gave few details on how the world’s biggest emitter would meet its target of reaching net zero emissions by 2060, set out by President Xi Jinping last year, and of ensuring that carbon dioxide output peaks before 2030.
China will reduce its “emissions intensity” – the amount of CO2 produced per unit of GDP – by 18% over the period 2021 to 2025, but this target is in line with previous trends, and could lead to emissions continuing to increase by 1% a year or more. Non-fossil fuel energy is targeted to make up 20% of China’s energy mix, leaving plenty of room for further expansion of the country’s coal industry.
Swithin Lui, of the Climate Action Tracker and NewClimate Institute, said: “[This is] underwhelming and shows little sign of a concerted switch away from a future coal lock-in. There is little sign of the change needed [to meet net zero].”
Bernice Lee, research director for futures at Chatham House, said the five-year plan should be seen as a starting point. “Xi has staked his political capital and future on delivering green and low-carbon growth at home, and his international reputation on fast climate action,” she said. “The direction of travel is clear, even if it remains short on specifics. The announcement [of the five-year plan]is just the start of a marathon, not a sprint. There will be much to play for in the coming months.”
Of course this makes China much like many other countries including Canada (and BC), long on promise, short on specifics.ED
Source Guardian and Sunday Times