Promises must be kept: China reaffirms goals of carbon peak, neutrality
Nation marked greatest air-quality improvement worldwide in past decade
Published: Sep 15, 2022 10:33 PM
Blue sky in Beijing Photo:IC

Blue sky in Beijing Photo:IC

China reaffirmed its resolution of achieving the goals of a CO2 emissions peak and carbon neutrality on Thursday, as the Ministry of Ecology and Environment noted achievements and progress that the country has made on building a "beautiful China" in the past decade. 

Minister Huang Runqiu told Thursday's press conference that "to achieve carbon-peaking and carbon-neutrality is to address outstanding problems of resource and environmental constraints and realize the sustainable development of the Chinese nation. Therefore, we are determined to achieve the goals."

This is also a solemn commitment to build a community with a shared future for mankind, and China will make good on that promise, Huang said, reaffirming China's aims to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. 

Even recent heat waves and drought in this country will not scupper those goals, said Huang. 

Over the past 10 years, "green" has increasingly become a clear backdrop for high-quality economic and social development, with China's carbon emissions intensity dropping by 34.4 percent, reversing the trend of rapid growth in carbon dioxide emissions, Huang noted at the meeting.

The minister said that China also has steadily adjusted its energy structures, and constantly optimized and upgraded industrial structures. The share of coal in primary energy consumption dropped from 68.5 percent to 56 percent last year, and the share of non-fossil energy consumption increased by 6.9 percentage points to 16.6 percent.

China's contributions in promoting global low-carbon development are obvious to all. China's effort in boosting the new-energy industry reflects the unshakable determination of the Chinese government in achieving its carbon peaking and carbon neutrality goals, Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

China is heading toward its goal on carbon neutrality steadily. This is in stark contrast with the attitudes of some European countries that have chosen to row back on their climate goals, having already returned or are planning to return to coal to generate electricity, after feeling the pinch from an energy crisis.

Western countries' return to coal, in addition to rich countries' reluctance to take real actions to help poorer countries, will cast a large shadow on the upcoming 2022 COP27 UN climate summit to be held in Egypt, November this year, Lin noted. 

Observers said that dealing with climate change is the most important issue for the next 40 years and it cannot be done without a global effort, calling on some Western countries to strengthen cooperation in the new-energy industry and stop setting limits on China's new-energy products.

Summarizing China's achievements in climate change, Huang said in the past decade, the country has witnessed the optimization of environmental protection regulations and supervision, and it also sought out a high-quality green development path and became deeply engaged in global biodiversity governance. 

For example, the National People's Congress Standing Committee has amended 25 laws related to the environment, covering air, water, soil, solid waste and noise pollution, as well as the protection of the Yangtze River, wetlands and black earth. 

With more than 30 environment-related laws, China has formed a legal system that can comprehensively, effectively and strictly protect the environment.

On air quality, Huang said that the national average concentration of PM2.5 fell from 46 micrograms per cubic meter in 2015 to 33 micrograms per cubic meter in 2020 and further to 30 micrograms per cubic meter last year. 

In addition, days with good air quality accounted for 87.5 percent of 2021, up 6.3 percentage points from 2015, making China the nation with the greatest air-quality improvement worldwide, according to the minister.

Huang said Beijing is an example of China's success in improving air quality in recent years, citing statistics that the number of days with heavy pollution in Beijing dropped from 58 in 2013 to eight in 2021, and there are only two days with heavy pollution so far in 2022 in the city. 

"Blue skies are now no longer a luxury for the city," he said.