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24 Sep 2020, 09:24
Julian Wettengel

Europe welcomes China’s pledge to carbon neutrality as part of joint climate drive

Clean Energy Wire

[Update adds German government spokesperson quote]

European politicians and NGOs have welcomed the announcement by President Xi Jinping of China that his country aims for carbon neutrality by 2060. A German government spokesperson welcomed the announcement as “an important signal for the global fight against climate change.” The spokesperson said Germany aims to continue close cooperation with China in all areas of climate action to ensure climate neutrality in both countries and beyond. Environment minister Svenja Schulze said on Twitter: "I am confident that the momentum for climate action emanating from China and the EU will not fail to mobilise other large economies.” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen also welcomed the decision. “It's an important step in our global fight against climate change under the Paris Agreement,” she said. “We will work with China on this goal. But a lot of work remains to be done.” 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”.

“This is a breakthrough for international climate diplomacy,” said Lutz Weischer, head of policy at Berlin NGO Germanwatch. Without the European Commission's proposal to increase the EU climate target for 2030 to a reduction of at least 55 percent, China would not have made this move, he added. “Now, however, an upward dynamic is emerging.” The EU, China and other countries now had to follow through and deliver verifiable targets and implementation plans to the United Nations with their updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

Alexander Reitzenstein, at energy and climate non-profit E3G, also welcomed the announcement. "It is an important step for climate diplomacy and a good signal for the European Green Deal and the increase of NDCs,” he wrote in a message on Twitter.

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. At an EU-China leaders' meeting via video conference on 14 September, European Council President Charles Michel said the EU encourages China to show more ambition.

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