China has published its long-awaited national plan on greenhouse gas emissions, just days before the opening of the Cop26 UN climate summit. However, the plan revealed on Thursday represents little progress on the previously announced ambitions of the world’s biggest carbon emitter, disappointing observers of the vital climate talks.
Emissions would peak by 2030 and be reduced to net zero three decades later, according to the nationally determined contribution (NDC) submitted to the UN. This is widely regarded as too late to ensure the world limits global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, which is the key aim of the talks.
The submission was sent by Li Gao, the director general of the department of climate change in the Chinese environment ministry, to Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary of the UN framework convention on climate change. Compared with China’s previous NDC in 2015, there is modest progress. The new document is clearer that China intends emissions to peak by 2030, with a reduction of the carbon intensity of the economy by more than 65%.