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China sets out climate action plan

China sets out climate action plan

China affirms climate action plan but experts say more is possible and needed to avoid dangerous climate change

Just after the EU-China Summit, China, the worlds’ biggest carbon polluter, announced an emissions intensity target of up to 65% by 2030 (based on 2005 levels) and confirming its emissions would peak around 2030 or earlier.

The details of the Chinese pledge were announced ahead of crucial climate talks in Paris at the end of the year which aim to forge an agreement to prevent dangerous climate change.

The United Nations has asked every country to submit its Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations outlining its climate action plan beyond 2020. This submission builds on the recent US-China bilateral announcement on climate change last year[1].

The new plan commits China to:

  • Peak emissions by 2030 or earlier
  • A carbon intensity target of up to 65% by 2030 based on 2005 level.

The plan will see the China cement its place as global leader in renewable energy. Over the course of the next 15 years China will install as much low carbon energy as the entire US electricity system capacity to date[2].

China will also cut the carbon intensity of its economy, regrow forests and peak emissions by 2030 at the latest. Coal use has already dropped and the country has put in place bans on new coal-fired power plants in certain regions.

China is acting in its own interest, pushing forward policies which improve air pollution which has reached crisis levels. It is estimated the plan will save 100,000 lives every year. It will also create 500,000 new jobs and increase energy security.

E3G welcomed the plan but points out that the plan contains no pledge on how fast China’s carbon emissions will fall after they peak. This is critical because the world will only be able to achieve its target to keep warming to less than 2°C if China’s emissions fall rapidly if they peak as late as 2030.

New evidence[3] also estimates that had China presented a plan which put it on a trajectory towards an economy powered by 100% renewables by 2050, it would secure an extra 1.4 million new jobs by 2030, and save around 1.9 million lives annually.

With China’s INDC now formally on the table, countries responsible for well over half of the world’s pollution have put forward climate action commitments as part of the impending Paris agreement, with more plans in the pipeline.

Just before the announcement the following significant events took place:

  • The EU-China Summit made progress in charting collaboration with the two economies on climate change. It is laying the economic foundations for a Paris agreement that can ratchet up ambition in future. However, deeper economic and political cooperation are required to accelerate a global low carbon transition.
  • Beijing hosted the signing ceremony to Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which aims to finance US$100bn infrastructure in Asia.

Nick Mabey, E3G’s CEO and Founding Director said,

“China’s climate action plan reaffirms its commitment to pursue a lower-carbon development pathway driven by domestic interests. But it can do more. It must now integrate climate change actions into its ambitious development and economic reforms.”

“The EU-China Summit charts progress between two huge economies to address climate change, but for a strong outcome in Paris, both economies will need to deepen their political and economic ties further. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) would be a good place to start. Many inside the EU have agreed to a global phase out of fossil fuels through the G7. We know that the next 15 years of investment in infrastructure will determine climate stability. The AIIB must will to incorporate the carbon and climate risks into its investment decisions to prevent dangerous climate change.”

Liz Gallagher, E3G Programme Leader on Climate Diplomacy said,

“This submission is critical to building momentum towards a climate deal in Paris. There is still time for China to ramp up ambition. These offers are the floor, not the ceiling of a deal in Paris.”


Nick Mabey, CEO and Founding Director of E3G, +44 (0) 7949768771,

Liz Gallagher, Climate Diplomacy Programme Leader, + 44 (0) 7920 461 838,





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