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Last year, China made a surprise commitment to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. But last week, the country released its latest Five-Year Plan, which sets the course for its near-term economic development, with no new climate goals. It still allows China to burn coal and doesn’t set a carbon cap to define what its peak emissions will be
As Quartz explained, “although the plan calls for a “major push” on clean energy development, the vague commitment all but guarantees emissions will continue to increase until 2030, when officials have promised they will peak.”
Why This Matters: China is responsible for more than a quarter of global emissions — the most of any individual country — so the country’s climate goals and commitment to them are absolutely essential to tackling the climate crisis. In order to hit Paris Agreement targets, China needs to hit its peak energy consumption in the next five years, according to a recent study. This plan doesn’t get there and experts estimate China’s emissions will continue to rise by at least 1.9 percent.
“The international community expected China’s climate policy to jump, but in reality it is still crawling,” Zhang Shuwei, a chief economist at Draworld Environment Research Center, a Beijing-based consultancy firm, told Vox.
Still, as EcoWatch reported, some are still hopeful that the government will announce more detailed regulations on carbon-intensive construction and manufacturing industries later this year, and that more details will be laid out in an upcoming separate five-year plan for the energy sector.
Pandemic Has Spiked, Not Slowed, Emissions: The pandemic caused a brief dip in emissions in China, like other countries worldwide. But China’s recovery has been carbon-intensive, with emissions 4% higher in the second half 2020 than they were the year prior. This spike comes from government stimulus sent to polluting construction and manufacturing sectors. China’s coal, oil, and gas consumption all increased at the end of last year, even after the climate neutrality pledge was announced.
Coal Plant Construction Continues Despite Neutrality Pledge: Coal consumption continues to rise because China continues to build new coal power plants, even as much of the world winds theirs down. In 2020, China built over more than times as much new coal power capacity compared the entire rest of the world, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. Continuing to build and operate new coal power plants harms the respiratory health of anyone living nearby, jeopardizes China’s chances of hitting their carbon neutrality goals, and threatens the global task of slowing climate change.
What’s more is that China continues to build and finance hundreds of coal plants in places like Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt and the Philippines.
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Last Thursday, Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM) introduced the Orphaned Wells Cleanup and Jobs Act of 2021 which would authorize nearly $8 billion in grant funding for abandoned oil and gas well cleanup projects across the nation. Methane emissions from abandoned wells threaten to derail President Biden’s climate goals, but dozens of […]
By Josh Freed, Senior Vice President for the Climate and Energy Program, Third Way For years, climate news has offered one of the best doomscrolling fixes, up there with the pandemic and Donald Trump’s assault on democracy. But we’ve finally entered an era when the good news on climate is starting to outweigh the […]
Special Presidential Envoy on Climate (or “SPEC”) Kerry is engaging with key nations this week in the run-up to the Global Summit in two weeks. In India yesterday he met with Prime Minister Narenda Modi, who reaffirmed his government’s commitment to its Paris pledges, including increasing its non-fossil fuel power capacity to 40% and substantially boosting forest cover to reduce CO2. Kerry visits Bangladesh today.
Why This Matters: Kerry is using these visits to try to elicit elevated commitments from other major emitters — China and India.
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