China, which was part of the BASIC group — Brazil, South Africa, India and China — in the global climate negotiations to flag the concerns of the developing countries, reached a surprise agreement with the US during President Barack Obama’s visit here last week.
The agreement setting out respective post-2020 goals to reduce the emissions was expected to put pressure on India and other developing countries to come up with firm commitments before the next year’s climate conference in Paris.
“Chinese policy makers will use ambitious goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to put the world’s largest energy consumer on track toward a low-carbon economy,” China’s top climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua said.
“If China and the US, the largest developing country and the largest developed country, can reach agreement on this issue, so can the rest of the world,” Xie, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, told state-run China Daily today.
During a two-day summit in Brisbane, Australia, G20 leaders agreed to set out domestic post-2020 targets as soon as possible, preferably early next year.
They also stressed the importance of how the mitigation of climate change would be financed.
President Xi Jinping said at the summit on yesterday that China will gradually cancel subsidies for fossil fuels, while it improves energy efficiency and supports renewable energies.
Xi also said China will establish a South-South Cooperation Fund to help developing countries address climate change.
The new targets unveiled by China and the US in Beijing last week for action on climate change are expected to serve as catalysts for furthering global climate cooperation.
China and the US, two top emitters of greenhouse gases, committed to reach an ambitious agreement on climate change next year that reflects the principle of their “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”, according to a joint announcement.
“Encouraging actions taken by the two countries are expected to drive the multilateral process ahead,” said Xie.
China expects its carbon emissions to peak around 2030.
Elaborating on why China opted to reach an agreement with the US, Xie said the setting of the target followed more than two years of analysis that took into account a wide range of factors, such as China’s industrialisation process, expected population growth and urbanisation plans.
“China has so many environmental problems, Chinese leaders intend to set an ambitious and powerful goal that could serve as a forcing mechanism to help accelerate the nation’s transition toward a low-carbon economy,” said Xie.
With good policies in place, China can meet the challenges of reducing the risk of climate change and air pollution, while maintaining growth of 7 to 8 per cent in the near term and 5 per cent by 2030, according to a study by Tsinghua University.
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