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Can China Walk the pre-2020 ambition Walk

By February 12, 2015 No Comments

Countries have been called called loud and clear to close the huge gap in emissions over the next five years.

As my fellow tracker noted, the negotiators moved into discussions on pre-2020 ambition today in Geneva. This came as a relief after what has been a difficult  discussion on how they are going to streamline the elements into a negotiating text for a new climate regime after 2020.


There’s a strong demand for closing the pre-2020 ambition gaps among nations, as the world is still gigatonnes away from our 1.5 or even 2 degree goal.

As always, ambition gaps have filled the hours here in Geneva. This morning was no different as G77+China, LMDC, India, Bolivia, Maldives and AILAC, all focused on the full implementation of pre-2020 ambition, stating that it remains a key stepping stone to building trust within the UNFCCC.

I was reminded today by a Chinese delegate that it is critical for discussions on pre-2020 ambition to move beyond the regular “talk show” well before the Paris agreement could be signed.

However, it is hoped that new analysis from WWF to help negotiators move past the confidence crisis that overshadows the next 5 years and collectively enhance the levels of climate action.

Liangchun Deng, Climate and Energy Programme Manager of WWF-China, analysed China’s climate policies and actions, and recommended in the briefing, “If there’s one thing China could do pre-2020 to enhance its climate ambition, and lay a solid foundation for a national emission peak, it would be to move away from coal.”

As the world’s biggest emitter, and second largest economy, China’s newest admistration has shown some interesting political will to deal with climate change at the domestic and recently, international level.

Recent moves of an “energy revolution” and “war on pollution” in China seem to have made some progress, with China’s coal production and coal use dropped for the first time in 2014.

Renewables such as solar booming back home, signalling what could be the early stages of a shift away from coal.

If China could speed up the phasing-out of old and inefficient coal-fired power plants immediately, it could also accelerate the transition from dirty coal to renewables, and clean up the economy as well as our grey-coated sky.

Shanghai’s beautifully eerie grey-coated ceiling

Shanghai’s beautifully eerie grey-coated ceiling

It’s critical that China, together with developed and developing countries move forward and take enhanced actions multilaterally.

Just as Liangchun pointed it out, “the road to the Paris… could be a strategic opportunity for China to show leadership, as China is already on track to deliver its pre-2020 pledge, and is planning to deliver the higher end of that pledge: a 40-45% ‘carbon intensity’ reduction by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.”


This piece was written by Hongyu Guo



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