LONDON: China and India edged forward in their commitment to lower carbon pollution on Saturday (Dec 12), issuing a string of promises that experts said fell short of action needed from the two emerging giants.
President Xi Jinping told a virtual climate summit that China would work to reduce the intensity of its emissions by 65 per cent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.
Xi promised to "aim to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030", repeating a pledge he made in September, when the world's largest emitter said it would achieve net-zero emissions by 2060.
He told the summit that renewables would account for 25 percent of China's primary energy consumption by 2030, and it would aim to have 1,200 gigawatts of solar and wind capacity installed by then.
More than 70 heads of state were addressing the Climate Ambition Summit, co-hosted by Britain, France and the United Nations on the fifth anniversary of the landmark Paris Agreement.
Under the Paris deal, countries must resubmit new plans to cut emissions every five years, with current commitments insufficient to achieve the accord's primary goal of limiting global warming to "well below" 2.0 degrees Celsius.
The UN said this week that global carbon pollution fell a record seven percent in 2020 due to pandemic response measures that curbed free movement and electricity demand.
But it said that the emissions of China - the first to lock down and to reopen its economy after the virus emerged in the city of Wuhan a year ago - fell just 1.7 per cent as Beijing sought a swift rebound from COVID-19.
Xi reiterated China's view that while it is still developing economically, richer countries should step up more.
"Developed countries should step up their provision of funds, technologies and support in capacity-building to developing countries," he said.
Li Shuo, a China expert at Greenpeace, said Xi's announcement on Saturday "will increase China's effort to further reduce carbon intensity and ensure exponential growth of wind and solar power over the next decade".
"However, Beijing has the potential to do more. Making its emissions peak earlier than 2025 is still something it should strive for," he told AFP.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country - the fourth largest emitter - would seek to have 450 gigawatts of renewable capacity installed by 2030.
He said that by 2047 - the centenary of independence from Britain - India "will not only meet its own targets but will also exceed your expectations".
However, India has yet to set a date for when it hopes to achieve carbon neutrality.