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China pledges to cut emissions at UN climate summit in New York – 24th September

Climate Summit 2014

Zhang Gaoli (Chinese Vice Premier) has spoken during the Climate Change Summit at the United Nations in New York. The country has pledged to take certain action on climate change and to ensure China’s carbon dioxide emissions peak as early as possible. Zhang Gaoli stated that China will “make greater effort to more effectively address climate change” and will announce post-2020 actions on climate change “as soon as we can” and that these would include “marked progress in reducing carbon intensity”.

Li Shuo (Greenpeace Senior Climate and Energy Policy Officer) stated that China’s stance has changed from a few years ago. “Five years after Copenhagen, China is in a vastly different position. Domestic air pollution is forcing the country to embark on a new path away from coal and 2014 saw the lowest coal consumption growth in a decade”. He went on to state that it is the first time such a high-ranking Chinese government member has suggested a peak emissions target with him suggesting that the Chinese government will give a clear indication of when the peak will be reached ahead of UN Climate Change talks in Paris in 2015.

China’s efforts to tackle climate change cannot be underestimated. China’s rising coal consumption to power its booming economy has lead to it become the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Research released last week suggests that China emits almost 30% of the worlds CO2 emissions. However, China has set ambitious targets domestically to cut coal use as part of its efforts to deal with its air pollution problems. Numerous Chinese cities are affected by high levels of air pollution, as seen last winter during the ‘airpocalypse’ that hit the capital Beijing and a number of other cities.

US President Barack Obama also spoke at the summit stating that the US and China have responsibility to lead other nations on climate change. Li Shuo of Greenpeace said this points to a changing dynamic between the two countries on the issue. He said he expects some announcements from the two countries on climate change after the APEC summit in Beijing in November when President Obama will meet Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. 

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