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25 September 2014 | by Gabor Chodkowski-Gyurics

China reluctantly join the struggle against emissions

China reluctantly join the struggle against emissions
Chinese deputy prime minister Zhang Gaoli said that China would “make a greater effort to more effectively address climate change”. According to Mr. Gaoli, China is gonig to announce post-2020 actions on climate change as soon as possible, that will translate into “marked progress in reducing carbon intensity” and “peaking of total carbon dioxide emissions as early as possible”.

According to Mr. Gaoli, China is to cut carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020 from 2005 levels by instituting absolute coal consumption targets.

China made these statements during the UN’s Climate Summit held in New York last week, despite many fearing it would neglect the Summit after announcing president Xi Jinping would not attend.

It was the first time a high-ranking Chinese government official mentioned a peak emissions target, Li Shuo, Greenpeace senior climate and energy policy officer, told Guardian.

China is the world’s biggest CO2 emitter. The country’s 9.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually constitute 30% of global emissions and exceed combined output of Europe and Russia.

For a long time, Beijing has said that it is developed economies that should bear the brunt of fighting climate change as it is their emissions that are responsible for the most part for the current concentration of CO2.

China did reiterate that position during the New York climate summit, although it prioritized emission reduction anyway in order to combat domestic air pollution.

Chinese reliance on coal power has led to acute air pollution in metropolitan areas. For example, Beijing reached a PM 2.5 level of 505 micrograms per cubic meter, while the World Health Organization’s safe level is 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

Severe air pollution also poses risk to agriculture, as plants do not have enough light for photosynthesis, according to recent research from China Agricultural University.


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