China announces 2030 target for cutting carbon emissions

China announced new measures designed to fight climate change over the weekend, during a virtual UN summit in which all countries were asked to declare a “climate emergency” by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

 China, which is currently the highest carbon emitting country, now plans to cut its emissions per unit of GDP by over 65 percent from the 2005 level by 2030, while ramping its total installed capacity of wind and solar power to over 1.2 billion kW.

In 2015, it set the target of lowering carbon intensity by 60-65 per cent by 2030.

Speaking via video, President Xi Xinping said: “All countries need to maximise actions in light of their respective national circumstances and capabilities. China always honours its commitments.”

He added that his country also plans to increase its forest coverage by six billion cubic metres from 2005 levels.

As of 2019, China had combined accumulative installed solar and wind capacity of around 414 GW. China’s state planner is aiming to have 240 GW of wind and the same amount of solar capacity installed by the end of this year.

Xinping made a surprise announcement in September that China plans to reach net-zero carbon by 2060 and estimates a peak in emissions between 2025-2030. While not as strong a commitment as the 2050 date pledged by the EU or the UK, China had previously not said that it planned to become carbon neutral.

President-Elect Joe Biden has committed to re-join the Paris Agreement on his inauguration day, giving a boost to climate campaigners following Donald Trump’s scepticism over the need for action to reduce emissions.

“[China’s new target] demonstrates good will,” said Li Shuo, a climate advisor with Greenpeace. “However, Beijing has the potential to do more. Making its emissions peak earlier than 2025 is still something it should strive for.”

The EU has urged China to halt all new coal projects and to stop financing overseas coal plants, although Xinping made no mention of reducing his country’s reliance on the fossil fuel over the weekend.

The country currently has a large number of coal-power plant construction projects in the pipeline representing the equivalent of the volume of the entire coal fleet of Africa and Middle East.