China has pledged to nearly triple its wind and solar capacity over the next decade, as President Xi Jinping joined other world leaders at a UN climate summit focused on new targets for ’emissions.
Xi’s statement was the most significant at a virtual summit that brought together more than 70 heads of state, hosted by Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom and Emmanuel Macron of France, to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate agreement.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called on all countries to declare a “climate emergency”, saying the world must reduce its emissions by 45% by 2030, from 2010 levels, to limit the global warming.
He noted that G20 countries were spending 50% more on their fossil fuel-related coronavirus stimulus packages than
on low-carbon energy, calling it “unacceptable”.
“The trillions of dollars needed to recover from COVID are the money we are
borrow from future generations. It’s a moral test, ”he said.
The new climate objectives of the 189 signatory countries of the Paris Climate Agreement must technically be submitted to the UN by the end of the year; more than 40 countries have already made their submissions, while others have been delayed by the coronavirus.
Mr Johnson warned that “humanity has stung our planet in a poisonous tea containing greenhouse gases”.
In recent weeks, the British Prime Minister has announced a series of green policies, including a ban on the sale of new petrol cars from 2030. “Today we are stepping on the accelerator, in a way respectful of carbon, ”he declared.
The United States, the world’s second-largest emitter, did not have a federal representative at the top. Under Donald Trump as president, the United States withdrew from the Paris climate agreement.
But President-elect Joe Biden said that he will join the Paris Agreement on its first day in office on Jan. 20, and tweeted at the summit on Saturday: “We are going to rally the world to push our progress further and faster and to tackle the climate crisis head-on.”
Missing from the event were Australia, whose climate promises were deemed too weak, and Brazil, which said it wanted to be paid 10 billion dollars per year to protect the Amazon, as well as Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Russia. Among the testimonials from companies, Apple CEO Tim Cook.
President Xi’s appearance at the summit was the most anticipated, as he pledged that China would reduce its carbon intensity, which measures emissions relative to gross domestic product, by more than 65% by 2030. It is This was an increase from its previous target of 60 -65 percent.
It would also increase the installed wind and solar capacity to 1,200 GW by 2030, Xi said, from 415 GW at the end of 2019.
“China always honors its commitments,” he said. “We will promote greener economic and social development in all its aspects.”
China aims to be carbon neutral by 2060, a goal it announced in September, and Xi’s comments on Saturday were the first indication of the paths the country will take to achieve that goal.
However, climate activists were quick to point out that China’s new targets were only a slight improvement over previous targets and that the country was continuing to build new coal-fired power plants.
Li Shuo, head of energy policy at Greenpeace, said the announcement was a “gradual step forward” and that a target of 75% reduction in carbon intensity would have been more in line with the long-term goal. from China.
“There is no decisive break with coal,” he said. “There is still potential for China to do more.”
One of the points of contention at the summit was the issue of climate finance – funding from rich countries to help developing countries tackle climate change – which is expected to reach $ 100 billion a year by 2020.
Climate finance was “far behind,” said the UN’s Guterres, and had been hit hard by the economic impact of the pandemic in 2020.
Italy’s Giuseppe Conti and Germany’s Angela Merkel have both announced new contributions to climate adaptation programs, with the latter pledging to double its climate finance budget to $ 4.8 billion per year. The UK reiterated a funding pledge made last year.