A new report by US-based think tank Rhodium Group states that China emitted 27% of the world’s greenhouse gases in 2019 –more than the entire developed world combined. Coming in second was the United States with 11% of emissions, and India was t third with 6.6%. The researchers stress that it will be difficult to avert dangerous climate change without an agreement between China and the United States.
The research reveals how China’s emissions more than tripled over the last thirty years. The Asian giant’s per-person emissions have also tripled over the past two decades. Those emissions remain far behind the US, but only because the country has the world’s largest population.
China recently vowed to reach peak emissions no later than 2030 and net-zero by 2060. President Xi Jinping reiterated this pledge at US President Joe Biden’s climate summit. He said:
This major strategic decision is made based on our sense of responsibility to build a community with a shared future for mankind and our own need to secure sustainable development.
However, China is fiercely reliant on coal power, currently running over half the world’s capacity (1,058 coal plants).
The world is far from meeting the commitment made under the Paris accord – a pledge by 197 nations to cap global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. Central to the Paris Agreement are targets intended to cut emissions called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Under the Paris pact, the NDCs represent each country’s commitments to reduce their national emissions and adapt to climate change’s impacts.
According to an independent scientific analysis that tracks government climate action (called the Climate Action Tracker), China’s NDC rating is “not at all consistent with holding warming to below 2C” and “highly insufficient.”
John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, traveled to China recently to meet counterparts and discuss how to collaborate to combat climate change. He made the journey despite diplomatic tensions between the two countries regarding a range of other issues. After, both sides announced in a joint statement their commitment to working together and with other countries on combating the climate crisis. Such action will include taking action specifically on emissions.
Leaders will come together for COP26 in November in Glasgow, UK. During this crucial climate change summit, they’ll organize how to accelerate action towards the targets of the Paris Agreement.