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US News By 2060, China commits to carbon neutrality, a first

21:15  23 september  2020
21:15  23 september  2020 Source:   ouest-france.fr

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Le discours de Xi Jinping aux Nations unies, le 22 septembre 2020 © UNITED NATIONS via REUTERS Xi Jinping's speech to the United Nations, September 22, 2020

It's a surprise announcement: China is A goal of carbon neutrality by 2060 has been set, reinforcing the Paris climate agreement… and marking a contrast with the attitude of the United States on the issue.

For the first time, the China set itself on Tuesday, September 22, a goal of carbon neutrality, by 2060, a decision which strengthens the Paris agreement on the climate and accentuates the contrast with the climate withdrawal attitude of the United States under Donald Trump.

Surprise

The surprise announcement was made by Chinese President Xi Jinping in a speech to the UN General Assembly, which is being held virtually this year. We aim to start lowering CO2 emissions by 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, President Xi said.

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Beijing will increase its climate commitments under the Paris climate agreement, he said. These commitments are freely set by each signatory country but they are binding, and they are supposed to be regularly revised upwards. The next round of hikes is seen as crucial to effectively shifting the global carbon emissions curve and limiting global warming.

All countries must take decisive action to honor this agreement, Xi said again, implicitly pointing out that the United States, the planet's second largest transmitter, would withdraw in November, according to a decision by Donald Trump .

China was already well on the right track to cap its emissions before 2030 (the “peak”, in climate jargon).

"The devil is in the details"

As for the 2060 target, it is less ambitious than the 2050 date which has been adopted by dozens of small countries and a few large ones, including those of the European Union, but it was hailed by several experts as a major step towards reviving the Paris Agreement.

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The devil is in the details and China will need to set specific short-term goals, as well as an earlier peak date, but China's path to a zero-carbon future is clearing, praised Helen Mountford, vice-president of the World Resources Institute.

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Belgian climatologist and former vice-president of the IPCC, the UN climate expert group, tells AFP that the announcement is very important, but warns that China will have to be consistent and stop funding coal-fired power stations or other fossil-fueled infrastructure in Africa.

Reducing net carbon emissions into the atmosphere to zero by mid-century is essential to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C, compared to the end of the 19th century, climate experts concluded. from the UN in a benchmark report in 2018.

This is arguably the closest realistic date for China, agrees Neil Hirst, a researcher at Imperial College London, about 2060. It's a big challenge which will involve shutting down or renovating a large number of relatively modern fossil fuel power plants, he points out.

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Experts' disappointment is that China has not brought forward a date for the "peak" of carbon emissions, with the date of 2030 being certain to be met due to the rapid growth of renewable energy in the country.

the United States had no lesson to teach anyone

In his own message to the UN, the US president accused China of dumping millions upon millions of tons of plastic and garbage in the oceans and of other environmental violations, and he bragged that US CO2 emissions were reduced last year.

True, but far from sufficient. Donald Trump, by pulling his country out of the deal and demolishing several pillars of Barack Obama's climate plan, has significantly slowed US progress. This has only been partially offset by a movement of initiatives and regulations at state and city levels.

Chinese Ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, replied that the United States had no lesson to teach anyone: They are the ones who did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, they who came out of the Paris agreement.

The future of the 2015 agreement will in part be determined by the US presidential election on November 3. Democratic candidate Joe Biden has pledged to become a signatory again, and achieve carbon neutrality in 2050.

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