China will “far surpass” 2020 climate target, says top envoy

World’s top carbon polluter on course to meet 2020 and 2030 goals, as demand for coal nears peak

Xie Zhenhua , Vice chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission (Pic: UN Photos)

Xie Zhenhua , Vice chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (Pic: UN Photos)

By Ed King

China’s lead climate envoy has hinted the country could exceed planned greenhouse gas cuts for 2020 by up to 10%, as the economy slows and coal use falls.

Addressing a conference in Hong Kong, Xie Zhenhua said the country would likely “far surpass” a goal to slash the carbon emissions in a unit of GDP 40-45% on 2005 levels by 2020.

The veteran diplomat, who negotiated for China at last December’s Paris summit, revealed the country could cut its carbon intensity by 50% by the end of the decade.

“China’s market for coal consumption has started to become saturated and should gradually decline,” he added in comments reported by the South China Morning Post.

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Official data suggests coal use by the world’s top carbon polluter fell 2.8% in 2015 while mining output dropped 3.5%.

The government had investments of $628 billion in the green economy planned up to 2030, Xie said, but admitted more support needed to be directed towards emissions data reporting, which experts say is unreliable.

“It is a question of ability … At every level of statistics there are exaggerations added to the data. Everyone knows that, and everyone is anxious [to fix it],” he said.

“We have set up a system to calculate and monitor energy saving and emission reduction, and are gradually improving it.”

Read more on: China | Fossil Fuels