BEIJING, Sept. 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — As the world struggles to revive the economy amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, China has called for global efforts to launch a green revolution and pledged to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.
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“COVID-19 reminds us that humankind should launch a green revolution and move faster to create a green way of development and life,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in an address delivered via video link to the General Debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.
Xi urged all countries to “take decisive steps” to honor the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, under which nearly 200 countries pledged to control greenhouse gas emissions to keep a global temperature rise this century well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
China aims to “have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060,” he said.
He also called for a “green recovery of the world economy in the post-COVID era” and efforts to achieve sustainable development in all countries.
Xi’s message won much applause. “Today’s announcement by President Xi Jinping that China intends to reach carbon neutrality before 2060 is big and important news,” said Todd Stern, U.S. climate envoy under the Obama administration who worked on brokering a bilateral climate agreement with China in 2014. He called the announcement an “encouraging” step.
The pledge was also welcomed by the European Union. “I welcome the announcement by President Xi that China has set a date for its CO2 emissions to peak and will become carbon neutral before 2060,” said Frans Timmermans, vice president for the European Green Deal.
China gets greener
As the largest developing country and the second-largest economy in the world, China is working hard to coordinate economic growth and environmental protection.
On the one hand, it is transforming its economic structure and growth pattern as part of the efforts to pursue high-quality development; on the other hand, the country has included fighting pollution among its “three tough battles” – alongside fighting major risks and poverty – on its way to deliver a moderately prosperous society by 2020.
Xi has always attached great importance to environmental protection and green development.
Fifteen years ago, as secretary of the Zhejiang Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), he proposed a concept that “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets,” which later became a famous idea on green development nationwide.
After becoming general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and president of China, Xi repeatedly stressed the importance of ecological protection at many occasions including during his inspection tours across the country.
China, once struggling with severe environmental problems such as frequent smog and widespread water pollution, is making remarkable progress in green development and contributing to the cause worldwide.
The country is on track to exceed its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions by 2030 under the Paris agreement thanks to its efforts to cut growth in energy use and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
CO2 emissions per unit of GDP have dropped by nearly half compared with 2005, accomplishing in advance the targets set to reduce 40 to 45 percent from the 2005 levels by 2020. And the pledge for 2030 is to lower CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65 percent from the 2005 levels, with the CO2 emissions reaching a peak by 2030.
In 2019, an environmental study by NASA concluded that between 2000 and 2017, China had been responsible for over a quarter of the new green areas created worldwide, making it the world’s biggest contributor in this field.
To support the global combat against climate change, Xi in 2015 pledged a 20-billion-yuan (three billion U.S. dollars) China South-South Climate Cooperation Fund, which was dedicated to help other developing countries win the fight.
Last year, China launched the International Coalition for Green Development on the Belt and Road to facilitate the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through a green construction of the Belt and Road.
“We call on all countries to pursue innovative, coordinated, green and open development for all, seize the historic opportunities presented by the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, achieve a green recovery of the world economy in the post-COVID era and thus create a powerful force driving sustainable development,” Xi said on Tuesday.
China is walking the talk.