"Today, China’s central government cabinet, the State Council, announced that China will cut the amount of carbon dioxide emitted for each unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. This new goal represents an important commitment by the China to continue its aggressive existing energy conservation and renewable energy policies beyond its current five year plan and sends a strong signal to the international community that it wants to be a constructive player at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, which starts in less than two weeks.
While some might question if this target is strong enough based on what the science requires and given China’s fast rate of GDP growth, what is notable is that the State Council has made clear that these targets will be a "binding goal" incorporated into the country’s mid- and long-term development plans, and that important mechanisms for reporting, monitoring and verification will be established to help them achieve these targets. This reinforces China’s pledge last week at the U.S-China presidential summit to the “full transparency” of its mitigation actions and to “stand behind these commitments.
I am also optimistic that we may see China revise these targets upwards, according to what the science requires, as implementation of these goals progresses. China has showed a willingness to do raise clean energy targets this year when it strengthened its wind energy and solar energy goals for 2020. China can be encouraged to do the same for carbon emissions if the rest of the world demonstrates their own commitment to robust climate action."
Julian Wong is available for comment and can be reached at 202 294 6118.