China commits to carbon neutrality

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One of the only ways to curb the climate crisis is for countries to make a concerted effort to reduce their emissions. China is setting a lofty goal for itself, committing to becoming carbon neutral before 2060. This announcement, made to the United Nations general assembly, gives the UN a nudge in the right direction as nations chart a united path forward to address the climate emergency.

According to the Chinese president Xi Jinping, “China will scale up its intended nationally determined contributions [under the Paris climate agreement] by adopting more vigorous policies and measures.”

This would be the first long-term commitment on decarbonization from China, the world’s largest emitter of CO2. Previously, the country had only committed to aim for peak emissions in 2030. With the new promise to carbon neutrality, China is setting a powerful example for other nations.

According to Li Shuo, a senior climate and energy policy officer at Greenpeace East Asia, for The Guardian, “Xi’s pledge will need to be backed up with more details and concrete implementation. By how much earlier can China peak its emissions? How to reconcile carbon neutrality with China’s ongoing coal expansion? These are hard questions that demand a better response from Beijing. But [the commitment] will certainly help turn a challenging year for the environment around and mark it as the beginning of a reinvigorated round of global climate efforts.”

Last week, the EU also announced further commitments under the Paris agreement to cut emissions by 55 percent by 2030. China’s announcement bodes well for the international community’s ability to cut emissions dramatically soon.

The US is glaringly absent from any global effort to combat the climate crisis. They’re scheduled to withdraw from the Paris accord on November 4. A Joe Biden victory in November, however, would likely see the US rejoin the international agreement.