World

‘No new pledges’: China announces how it will meet peaking carbon emissions by 2030

Analysis by Tom Cheshire, Asia correspondent

If anyone was hoping for a big statement from the world’s biggest polluter ahead of COP26 – well, bad luck. This is as good as it gets.

There are no new pledges. Those were unlikely after President Xi made his dramatic and welcome declaration last year, that China would peak emissions by 2030 and would be carbon neutral by 2060.

These documents represent the nitty gritty of achieving it. They’re a mixed bag.

In the positive ledger, you can see the work that has gone into turning Xi’s words into reality. They are being embedded are the bureaucratic level, which makes backsliding harder, and they touch pretty much every part of the Chinese economy.

And the first paragraph talks about the “guiding ideology” of the policies. Using “Xi Jinping Thought”, along with other Communist hallmarks, they will “thoroughly implement Xi Jinping’s Ecological Civilization Thought.” In other words, this comes from the top and everyone better hop to it.

If Xi does managed to train China’s government on meeting existing pledges, that will be an ambitious achievement in itself.

But some of the details leave a lot to be desired, especially on coal. From the wording, it sounds like China’s coal peak is going to dwindle only slowly, which could be catastrophic for global warming.

Now the documents have been published, perhaps other countries’ leaders can put more pressure on China in Glasgow to take stronger action – especially when it comes to China’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).

But there will probably be no new pledges at COP, especially with Xi likely staying away.

Still, boring details can be just as important as the sweeping promises.

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