WASHINGTON (October 28, 2021)—Today China released a new national climate commitment under the Paris Agreement (known as a Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC). In the plan, China aims to peak CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, lower CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by over 65% from the 2005 level, increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 25%, to increase the forest stock volume by 6 billion cubic meters from the 2005 level, and bring its total installed capacity of wind and solar power to over 1.2 billion kilowatts by 2030.

The plan comes days before the COP26 UN climate summit and follows earlier commitments by China this year to strictly control domestic coal-fired power generation and stop building coal-fired power plants abroad.

Following is a statement from Helen Mountford, Vice President, Climate and Economics, World Resources Institute:

“China’s new climate commitment is a modest improvement over the country’s previous plan under the Paris Agreement. For China to get on a pathway to reach its 2060 carbon neutrality goal it is critical for the country to further strengthen its new near-term targets and put in place measures to reach them. Our analysis shows that China can step up its efforts to reducing emission while also enjoying economic growth and a more sustainable environment.

“It was very encouraging that China recently pledged to stop building coal plants abroad, but the country also needs to take more actions domestically to rein in greenhouse gas emissions this decade. This includes rapidly shifting its energy mix from coal to wind and solar, starting to shrink its carbon footprint by 2027 or sooner, and peaking its non-CO2 emissions which have the same warming impact as Russia’s total greenhouse emissions.  China has stated in the updated NDC that it will stringently curb coal-powered projects, set strict limits on the increase in coal consumption during 2021-2025 and to phase it down during 2026-2030. And China emphasized again that it will effectively control non-CO2 GHG emissions. By following through on its ‘1+N’ policy framework, China can implement a slate of domestic measures to mainstream China’s climate goals across different industries and sectors. 

“New analysis by World Resources Institute and Climate Analytics shows that China has the potential to fill 25% of the global gap between countries’ current climate commitments and the emission reductions necessary to keep the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit within reach. If the world is going to have any chance of coming to grips with the climate crisis, China – as well as all other major emitters –  needs to graduate from taking small steps to giant leaps toward a cleaner and safer future. 

“China has strong economic and social incentives to adopt ambitious climate policies. WRI research shows that bold climate action by China could generate savings of $530 billion in fuel, operation and maintenance costs over 30 years. Ambitious climate action would also save China nearly 1.9 million lives and generate roughly $1 trillion in net economic and social benefits in 2050.

“China is among the countries that are most affected by climate change, yet policies and measures to address these impacts remain in their infancy. The updated NDC underlines the upcoming Adaptation Strategy 2035, which will strengthen the integration of adaptation actions in economic, social and environment development in the next 15 years. Going forward, it is incumbent on the country to not only rein in emissions but also develop clear action plans to protect its citizens from increasingly dangerous and costly impacts.”