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China's climate ambition unprecedented but realistic

Source: Xinhua Updated: 2021-06-08


An aerial view of a wind farm in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [Photo by Tan Kaixing/For China Daily]

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that nobody is safe until everybody is safe, a lesson that can be easily applied to the threat of climate change as well.

China has demonstrated great commitment to its climate goals despite facing innumerable other social and economic priorities as the world's largest developing country. Beijing has announced its ambition to peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, a move that materializes the concept of a common community of shared future for mankind.

This ambitious pledge means that China has to realize an unprecedented reduction in carbon emissions and move from peak carbon to carbon neutrality faster than any country in history.

However, its commitments are based on solid carbon-reduction achievements in recent years and are therefore achievable. For example, China's carbon intensity had dropped by 48.1 percent by the end of 2019 from the 2005 level. From 2012 to 2019, China's GDP grew by an annual average of 7 percent, while the energy consumed to achieve this economic development only increased by an annual average of 2.8 percent.

Guided by the country's clear goals, local governments and enterprises have set their own carbon reduction schedules. Shanghai has pledged to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2025, five years earlier than the national target. Beijing, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Hainan have also included a carbon peak in their 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) and drawn concrete road maps.

Renewable energy, driven by technological advancement, is playing an indispensable role in helping China meet its climate goals, with the country's hydro, wind and photovoltaic power generation each topping the world in terms of their cumulative installed capacities.

Consequently, the proportion of the country's energy consumption covered by coal in 2019 declined by 10.8 percent compared with the figure from 2012, according to an energy white paper issued in December 2020 by China's State Council Information Office.

In April, the latest electric vehicle models from NIO, Geely and BYD, among other big names, made headlines at this year's Shanghai auto show. New players including Huawei and Xiaomi are piling into this industry to claim a share of the market.

Sales of new-energy vehicles (NEV) in China, which is already the world's leading NEV market, skyrocketed 2.8 fold year on year to 515,000 units in the first quarter, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed.

China has risen to the climate change challenge in a manner befitting its status.

The effort to tackle climate change must be global in nature, as without concrete action, no one is safe. International agreements such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement have provided a decarbonization blueprint for the world. Now is the time to act.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of Qiushi Journal.