China aims to be carbon neutral by 2060, tightening its target to cut greenhouse-gases, and signaled higher spending on green technologies in the next five years, major pledge in the fight against climate change by the planet’s worst polluter.
President Xi Jinping, speaking during a virtual United Nations General Assembly, also reiterated his goal for emissions to peak before 2030 and urged all nations to work towards a greener economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
While he didn’t lay out details, Xi’s announcement implies China’s emissions will have to sharply decline to reach net-zero in less than 30 years after peaking in 2030.
“Humankind can no longer afford to ignore the repeated warnings of nature and go down the beaten path of extracting resources without investing in conservation, pursuing development at the expense of protection, and exploiting resources without restoration,” Xi said in a speech by video link.
The remarks suggest that China, the world’s most populous nation and top energy user, is willing to take on more responsibility for tackling climate change.
It marks a contrast with US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement, which called for limits on fossil-fuel emissions everywhere.
Xi didn’t give any further details of what carbon neutrality means or set out further information about how China’s pledges under the Paris accord will evolve.
His announcement is evidence that the leadership’s next five-year plan will seek to accelerate the spread of clean energy.
The plan for 2021-2025, due to be published in March, will seek to balance economic growth that has been fueled by coal with the need to rein in pollutants damaging the atmosphere.
The government has been trying to limit the use of the dirtiest fossil fuel in recent years while scaling up renewable energy production. European officials were expected to press China to toughen its climate goals at a high-level meeting last week, according to two officials.