SINGAPORE: As the United Nations warns countries need to do more to stave off the worst impacts of climate change, the world’s biggest carbon emitter has little to offer in the way of stronger action.
While China’s top environmental officials reiterated the nation’s commitment to the Paris Agreement climate goals during a briefing in Beijing yesterday, they didn’t address questions on deeper carbon emission cuts called for by the UN or the country’s plans for new coal-fired power generation.
They also said China would continue to measure its success fighting climate change by tracking the falling emissions intensity of its economy, which has helped it to slow but not reverse its growth of carbon emissions.
The warnings over climate change and the need for governments to take stronger action are becoming more dire as world leaders head to Madrid next week for United Nations climate talks. Greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, the UN said Tuesday in a report, meaning that governments must commit to deeper and faster carbon emission cuts than previously pledged. Nations should halve their 2018 pollution levels by 2030 to meet the goals set out in the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, it said. China, as the biggest polluter, will have a central role in tackling the problem. While it has spent the most money on clean energy and provides cheap exports of green technology to markets worldwide, it consumes about half the planet’s coal and is forecast to drive a global surge in coal-fired power plants.
“As the world’s largest developing country, on the one hand, we continue to work hard to advance the fight against climate change, ” Zhao Yingmin, China’s vice environmental minister, said at the briefing. “On the other hand, we are indeed facing multiple challenges such as developing the economy, improving people’s livelihood, eliminating poverty and controlling pollution.”— Bloomberg
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