China, the world’s largest polluter has announced a carbon neutral pledge, with President Xi Jinping saying the country will achieve their goal by 2060.
The announcement came from President Xi JinPing in remarks to the United Nations General Assembly, where he told diplomats that China would hit peak emissions by 2030, and make good on its carbon neutral pledge shortly after the mid-century mark.
President Xi reaffirmed China’s commitment to the Paris climate accord, and said that a post-pandemic recovery should be underpinned with more effective environmental management.
Xi said that the Paris climate accord “outlines the minimum steps to be taken to protect the Earth, our shared homeland, and all countries must take decisive steps to honour this agreement.”
“We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060,” head of the Chinese Communist Party said, urging governments around the globe to “seize the historic opportunities presented by the new round of scientific and technological revolutions and industrial transformation.”
The European Union has previously asked China to bring its peak CO2 emissions date forward to 2025, telling President Xi that in order to avoid irreversible damage, a peak emissions date of 2030 won’t suffice.
Speaking at the same Assembly, U.S. President Donald Trump called the Paris Climate Accord unfair toward the United States, stating that “those who attack America’s exceptional environmental record while ignoring China’s rampant pollution are not interested in the environment.”
“They only want to punish America, and I will not stand for it,” he added.
In response, Chinese ambassador to the United Nations said that “the United States should be the last one to talk about climate change… they are the one who are dissociating itself from the international efforts on climate change.”
President Trump has removed the United States from the Paris climate accord, which his competitor Joe Biden has pledged a return to, if elected. Mr Biden has previously stated that he plans on re-signing the agreement and move the United States toward carbon neutrality by 2050.
Joeri Rogelj, a climate researcher at the Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute has told the SBS that China’s move is both “unexpected and eye-opening.”
“All in all, China’s announcement is a defining moment that resets the ambition of global climate action,” Rogelj said, adding that China’s motivation is largely driven by adverse pollution levels impacting its citizens, as well as poor profitability forecasts for a number of emissions-heavy means of production and energy supply.
China has implemented a cap on coal production, as well as incentives for renewable energy transitions.
Vice president for climate and economists at the World Resources Institute, Helen Mountford has issued a statement saying “this announcement will send positive shockwaves through diplomatic circles and should prompt greater climate ambition from other major emitters,” while warning that “the devil will be in the details.”