24 Sep 2020, 12:47
Julian Wettengel

After carbon-neutrality pledge, China must now walk the talk – opinion

Handelsblatt / Zeit Online / FAZ

German media commentators have cautiously welcomed the announcement by Chinese President Xi Jinping that his country aims for carbon neutrality by 2060.

China’s plans are commendable in principle, but there are justifiable doubts about how serious president Xi is about it, writes Dana Heide in an opinion piece in business daily Handelsblatt. “It is possible that the issue is merely intended to serve him as an image booster,” presenting himself as an “anti-Trump” in front of the world community. “China takes on the role of the more reasonable world power. This climate show raises doubts,” writes Heide. Promises from the past, such as Xi presenting China as an advocate of free trade at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos remain unfulfilled, she adds. The public should take a close look at whether Beijing would now walk the talk and tackle the transition to carbon neutrality – “a mammoth project without precedent.”
Chinese president Xi Jinping decided to portray his country as a reliable partner in international treaties – in contrast to US president Donald Trump whose speech took place just shortly beforehand, writes Alexandra Endres for Zeit Online. EU-China climate diplomacy – for example the leaders’ video conference on 14 September – preceded the announcement, and both countries now have to show how they aim to implement more ambitious targets, she says.
China’s pledge is “not completely unbelievable”, as the country has a long-term interest in preventing the effects of climate change and air pollution, writes Hendrik Ankenbrand in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He adds that Chinese leadership does not like the fact that the country has to import large amounts of oil. “Politicians, on the other hand, are happy to see that three-quarters of all solar modules and 70 percent of all electric car batteries come from China, which is rich in cobalt and lithium, two important raw materials for renewable energies,” writes Ankenbrand.

At the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, president Xi pledged that his country would adopt much stronger climate targets and achieve what he called “carbon neutrality before 2060”. China is the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter and its actions are crucial in the fight against rising global temperatures. A joint push by the EU and China remains the best hope to drive global climate action and build momentum ahead of next year’s UN climate talks, researchers and NGOs have said.

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