Crib notes: China smashes 2016 carbon intensity goal

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Beijing’s air pollution typically intensifies in winter (Pic: J Aaron Farr/Flickr)


In the bleak midwinter, China offered a spot of cheer. The world’s largest greenhouse gas polluter beat its target to cut the amount of carbon emitted per unit of GDP, official documents reveal.

Beijing had aimed to slash carbon intensity by 3.9% but achieved 6%, it said in an annual review of progress highlighted by Stian Reklev from Carbon Pulse.

In a statement the government said it would continue to “strengthen energy-saving and emission reduction” and “coordination on climate change”.

China has a 2020 goal of cutting carbon intensity by 18% by 2020 on 2015 levels, reducing energy intensity by 15%, and boosting non-fossil fuel sources of energy to 15% of the energy mix.

Amid worsening air pollution levels, the government has also mandated a 10% cut in coal use in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong and Henan by 2020.

For more on China’s energy and climate plans through 2020, Alvin Lin from the National Resources Defense Council has just published a great analysis.

Final meetings of 2016

On Monday, European environment ministers are meeting to discuss the bloc’s emission trading scheme (ETS), clean energy and waste policy.

Governments will debate enforcing stricter rules on the ETS to help it meet a 2030 goal of 40% greenhouse gas cuts on 1990 levels. Last week lawmakers agreed to cancel 1 billion surplus carbon credits – but member states could yet overturn that.

The MEPs also sneaked in a clause to include international aviation and shipping in the carbon market. That brought a fierce backlash from the International Chamber of Shipping, which wants any pollution curbs to be regulated by the notoriously slow International Maritime Organization (IMO).

ICS is confident that IMO Member States, most of which are developing nations, will adopt a CO2 reduction strategy in 2018 that will include ambitious CO2 reduction goals and the development of a mechanism for delivery,” said Simon Bennett from ICS. “But threats of EU unilateral action will do nothing to help this complex process.”

Regular readers of Climate Home will know the IMO has not agreed to deliver a CO2 reduction plan in 2018. Rather, it will deliver an initial set of vague proposals that will (may) be finally signed off in 2023.

SDGs focus

On Tuesday, the European Commission hosts a conference on the Sustainable Development Goals. UNEP’s Eric Solheim, insurance giant Aviva’s Steve Waygood and sailor-turned-circular economy advocate Dame Ellen MacArthur are on the speaker line-up.

On Wednesday, Brazilian lawmakers are due to vote on a bill the environment minister Jose Sarney Filho said would unleash “environmental civil war” and undermine climate goals.

Backed by the rural lobby, the bill would scrap federal licensing rules and delegate control to states. The finance committee will consider whether to send the proposal for a plenary debate.

Donald Trump has made all his key cabinet picks. For a balanced overview of the climate-relevant posts, with all the team’s internal contradictions, this is good from Christian Science Monitor.

Mayors and governors are determined to press ahead with climate action regardless of the federal government’s position, New York Times reports. “If Trump turns off the satellites… California will launch its own damn satellite,” says California governor Jerry Brown.

Reuters has a reminder that sub-national actors won’t necessarily act as a corrective to Trump’s fossil-friendly agenda, with the news 24 states are urging the president-elect to scrap Barack Obama’s clean power plan.

Questions, questions

A few days ago the London-based climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation produced what it said was proof UK climate laws would cost £319 billion by 2030.

The team at Carbon Brief did a spot of digging – and were less than impressed with the GWPF’s maths. They’ve asked it (and the report’s author Peter Lilley MP) to answer a few questions. Don’t hold your breath…

Finally: It gets quiet in majority-Christian parts of the world in the run up to Christmas. If you’ve got a climate story that’s been overlooked in 2016, now’s a good time to get in touch. We’re still working!

Read more on: Climate politics