Ten days ahead of the Copenhagen climate summit, China has, for the first time, announced a target to limit the growth of its greenhouse gas emissions.
The country will reduce its “carbon intensity,” or carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP, to 40-45 per cent of 2005 levels by 2020, a meeting of the State Council, China’s cabinet, declared on Thursday.
It was also announced that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will attend next month’s climate talks.
“This is a voluntary action taken by the Chinese government based on our own national conditions and is a major contribution to the global effort in tackling climate change,” the State Council said in a statement.
The announcement comes a day after the United States proposed a 17 per cent reduction in emissions below 2005 levels by 2020. This fell far below the 40 per cent target that many developing countries, including India and China, had called for.
Reducing carbon intensity does not mean China’s net emissions will fall – these are set to continue rising in the near future.
Analysts here described Thursday’s statement as a positive step, but cautioned that it may not be viewed as a big enough boost to spur greater commitments from the developed nations.
“This is a significant announcement at a very important point in time, but China could do more,” said Yang Ailun, climate campaign manager of Greenpeace China. “It’s not just China, but a number of developing countries like Brazil, Indonesia and even India have made positive announcements in recent weeks. The low level of ambition from the U.S. is still a main obstacle.”
Hopes of reaching a legally-binding deal at the Copenhagen talks have faded in recent weeks, with persisting differences between developing countries and the industrialised nations over emissions targets and how much financial assistance should be provided to developing countries.
Representatives from a number of the G77 group of developing countries will hold discussions here on Friday to firm up their negotiating positions ahead of next month’s summit.
Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said he would hold talks with Mr. Wen and China’s climate change special envoy Xie Zhenhua.