Just three days before the opening of COP26, a crucial conference in the fight against global warming, China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, officially submitted its long-awaited new climate commitments on Thursday.

This new "national contribution" (NDC) from Beijing takes up the main commitments already formulated by Chinese President Xi Jinping: to reach its peak of emissions "before 2030" and carbon neutrality "before 2060".

A peak in emissions “around 2030”

These new commitments, posted on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website, also provide for a reduction in carbon intensity (CO2 emissions compared to GDP) by more than 65% compared to 2005. But while China's previous NDC pledged to reduce its carbon intensity by between 60% and 65% by 2030 and reach its peak in emissions “around 2030”, these new and strengthened ambitions have failed. convinced all observers.

In its contribution, Beijing recalls that the developed countries must "assume their historic responsibilities and continue to resolutely take the lead in reducing emissions".

China is also committed to increasing the share of non-fossil fuels to 25% in its consumption, against 20% in its previous NDC, in particular with the increase of "its installed capacity of solar and wind energy to 1.2 billion kW by 2030 ”and to increase its forest“ stock ”by 6 billion cubic meters compared to 2005.

Towards a “catastrophic” warming of + 2.7 ° C

According to the Paris agreement, signed in 2015 and which shows the ambition to contain global warming well below the + 2 ° C and if possible + 1.5 ° C mark compared to the pre-industrial era, signatory countries must file an upwardly revised NDC every 5 years.

The new contribution from China, responsible for more than a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, was therefore eagerly awaited before COP26, which formally opens Sunday in Glasgow (Scotland).

Especially since the UN said Monday that the new climate commitments made in recent weeks are still leading the world towards a "catastrophic" warming of + 2.7 ° C.

But Beijing's new contribution does not seem ambitious enough to many observers.

For Li Shuo of Greenpeace China, “it casts a shadow over the global climate effort. In view of internal economic uncertainties, the country seems reluctant to embrace stronger short-term goals and has missed the opportunity to show ambition. The world cannot afford this to be the last word and Beijing must develop implementation plans to ensure peak emissions before 2025, ”he wrote on Twitter. For Lauri Myllyvirta, analyst at the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), the new Chinese NDC is setting President Xi's commitments in stone, but "does not shed light on what will be the trajectory of the decade to come in terms of emissions ”.

For its part, Australia, the world's largest coal exporter, whose Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison regularly affirms its support for the mining and gas industry, also filed a new NDC on Thursday.

As Mr Morrison announced earlier this week, the main addition is a net zero emissions target for 2050, but the contribution does not provide any specific details on how it plans to achieve it.


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