Oct 13, 2020 04:08 AM

China Aims to Cut All Greenhouse Gases by 2060, Researcher Says

A pedestrian wearing a protective mask uses his mobile phone as a thermal power plant stands across the river in Changshu
A pedestrian wearing a protective mask uses his mobile phone as a thermal power plant stands across the river in Changshu

(Bloomberg) — China’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2060 includes all greenhouse gases, not just carbon dioxide, according to one of the country’s top climate researchers.

He Jiankun, who chairs the academic committee at the Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua University, made the clarification Monday at a conference outlining China’s road map to reaching its goal.

When President Xi Jinping told the United Nations of China’s new target last month, he didn’t specify whether China would focus on just carbon dioxide — the most prevalent greenhouse gas — or others that also contribute to global warming such as methane, ozone and nitrous oxide. He also didn’t detail how China planned to reach the target, though the government is expected to lay out some of those measures in its five-year plan for 2021–25.

China should announce more ambitious contributions to the Paris climate accord including reducing its carbon intensity by more than 65% from 2005 levels and aiming for a higher share of non-fossil fuel energy sources by 2030, He said.

However, researchers at the conference laid out scenarios that showed even that plan wouldn’t put China on a path to limiting the increase in average global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels, so China would have to scale up targets even more after 2030.

He also said that the next five-year plan should include these targets to achieve the 2060 goal: Cut energy consumption per capita of gross domestic product by at least 14%; boost the share of energy that comes from non-fossil fuels to about 20%; and reduce carbon dioxide intensity by as much as 20%.

In September, Tsinghua University’s Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy issued a proposal for achieving the 2060 target, which entailed a more gradual transition over the next decade and a half and a rapid acceleration after 2035. Under the plan, coal-fired electricity would be eliminated by 2050.

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