In one of the most anticipated announcements ahead of the Paris climate negotiations later this year, China has submitted an ambitious plan for curbing its emissions and dealing with climate change impacts.
Oxfam Australia’s climate change policy advisor Dr Simon Bradshaw said China, the world’s largest investor in renewable energy, has just submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the new global climate agreement, which will be finalised in Paris.
Australia is expected to announce its own INDC this month.
China will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by up to 65 per cent by 2030, by which time more than 20 per cent of the country’s energy will be coming from non-fossil fuel sources. It has committed to ensuring its emissions peak by around 2030 and there are signs it may meet that target sooner.
“China is showing that tackling climate change and reducing poverty can, and indeed must, go hand in hand,” Dr Bradshaw said.
“China is embarking on a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. Its far-reaching goals are breaking new ground and are vital to global efforts to tackle climate change.”
Climate change is a major threat in the fight against hunger and poverty. More than half of China’s poor live in areas that are particularly vulnerable to climate impacts, and where climate change is exacerbating existing environmental challenges. Warmer temperatures and shifting rainfall will reduce crop yields in many areas and increase water scarcity.
“As in countries around the world, it is China’s poorest communities – those who have done least to contribute to the problem of climate change – who are bearing the brunt of a changing climate,” Dr Bradshaw said.
While Oxfam has strongly welcomed China’s INDC, it also recognises room for improvement. Like all INDCs, it should be viewed as a floor upon which additional efforts will be built.
Importantly, in addition to setting out the country’s emissions reduction goals, China’s INDC also deals with what will need to be done to help the country adapt to climate change. Oxfam has encouraged the Chinese Government to work in partnership with poorer communities and ensure that their needs are prioritised.
“There is a clear lesson here for Australia: The world’s largest economies, including China, are taking ever more serious steps towards reducing emissions and moving towards renewable energy,” Dr Bradshaw said.
“All eyes are now on Australia as our government prepares its own contribution to the Paris agreement, due this month.”
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