China set to commit to tougher climate targets in 2015

Deputy climate chief says government will push for further carbon cuts in next Five Year Plan due out in 2015

By Ed King in Warsaw

China will commit to further carbon reduction targets in its next Five Year Plan, due out in 2015, the country’s deputy head of climate change has told RTCC.

Li Gao said a 2009 target to reduce the ‘intensity’ of its carbon emissions 40-45% on 2005 levels by 2020 was “quite ambitious”, but indicated this was likely to change.

“We will continue to enhance our carbon intensity target, we will make every effort to achieve it within the five year plan period and we are also thinking about how we can enhance our efforts to control CO2 emissions in the next five year plan,” he said.

“We will not stop on 40%. We will make efforts to reach a higher end. And at the same time, to deal with CO2 emissions, we are thinking about maybe carbon intensity target as well as overall control.”

China overtook the USA as the world’s largest source of carbon emissions in 2006. According to a report by the Netherlands government, emissions from China increased by 3% in 2012, a significant slowdown compared to annual increases of around 10% over the past decade.

Historically the country has strongly resisted adopting any emission reductions at the UN, citing its developing country status. Some analysts believe it will be impossible to secure an effective global climate treaty in 2015 unless China agrees to binding cuts.

But in recent years the pace of investment in low carbon energy appears to have increased, and in September it launched a new pollution plan, aimed at ensuring coal use peaks in Beijing, Hebei and Shandong by 2017.

Speaking on the sidelines of UN climate negotiations in Warsaw, Gao said low carbon pilot projects in over 30 cities and provinces were working well, and stressed the “big progress” made on developing a national carbon market.

He also revealed China would add to the $32 million (200m RMB) of ‘South South’ climate finance it was providing to the world’s poorest regions to help adaptation projects.

“We have deep concern about the negative impact of climate change, like small islands, least developed countries and Africa,” he said.

But Gao, considered one of the more progressive members of the  Chinese delegation, added that developed nations carry the most responsibility for funding climate-related investments.

“For us, it’s important in terms of mitigation developed countries can take a lead,” he said.

“We need to revisit levels of ambitions of countries who joined KP2 [Kyoto Protocol extension signed in 2012], and those who did not join KP2 – they need to make comparable levels of ambition.”


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