China sets ambitious target on emissions

Beijing announces it will cut rate of carbon output growth by 40 per cent

China has galvanised the run-up to the climate change talks in Copenhagen by announcing an ambitious target to reduce its carbon footprint. It is the first time the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases has committed itself to a reduction, and comes one day after the US announced its own target.

Taken together, these signals of intent by the world's two biggest producers give a powerful boost to the prospects for the talks. China said it will cut emissions of carbon relative to economic growth by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels.

Because its economy is still growing fast, this means that in absolute terms China's emissions will continue to rise fast for at least a decade. But for the first time China has agreed to slow the pace of growth of emissions.

"This is a voluntary action taken by the Chinese government based on its own national conditions and is a major contribution to the global effort in tackling climate change," the State Council said in a statement quoted by the Xinhua news agency yesterday. The announcement of the target came as Beijing was again clouded in smog, a grim reminder of the need for China to do something about its worsening environmental situation.

The leadership in Beijing is increasingly aware of the need for China to cut its carbon emissions, especially given the country's heavy reliance on expensive, and dirty, coal.

Coal accounts for 69 per cent of primary energy in China, 42 per cent higher than the world's average. The country is forced to live with the consequences of burning fossil fuels: smoggy skies, worsening typhoons, desertification and melting glaciers. But environmental groups said they fear the measures announced by China may be too little to stop the worsening climate change crisis.

"Given the urgency and magnitude of the climate change crisis, China needs stronger measures to tackle climate change," said Ailun Yang of Greenpeace China. "This is a significant announcement at a very important point in time. But China could do more."

Beijing also announced that Prime Minister Wen Jiabao will attend the Copenhagen conference that starts on 7 December.

He and US President Barack Obama are among 66 global leaders expected to try to hammer out an agreement on the framework for a final accord to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Thus far, there has been little optimism about the prospects for the talks, and a vague framework document was looking the most likely outcome. But the news from China and the US has brightened hopes of the emergence of some kind of deal.

The US, which China recently overtook as the world's largest air polluter, said it will bring to Copenhagen an offer to reduce emissions by about 17 per cent for the same period.

The negotiations ahead of the talks have been characterised by disagreements between the rich countries and developing nations over issues such as targets for emission cuts, and the amount that the rich countries should provide to the developing world to fund climate change programmes.

China's first pledge to cut what it calls "carbon intensity" came in September, though without specifics. China defends its emissions output by saying that it is a developing country and that it should be up to developed countries to do more to cut their carbon output.

Beijing authorities argue that rich countries such as the US, Japan and Germany are responsible for 80 per cent of the carbon-dioxide pollution currently in the atmosphere.

China has been very publicly promoting its efforts to develop sustainable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. Beijing has set a target of generating 15 per cent of all electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Sustainable energy accounts for around 9 per cent of the total, up from 7.5 per cent four years ago.

69%

The proportion of China's primary energy generated from coal.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone