China will inject new impetus into climate change efforts after 2020, and use its Belt and Road initiative to boost cooperation in the fight against global warming, State Councillor Wang Yi, the country’s top diplomat, said in a statement.
China has promised to show “the highest possible ambition” when reviewing its climate commitments next year, raising hopes that the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter would include stronger targets in a five-year plan from 2021.
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Wang, who is representing President Xi Jinping this week at the United Nations climate summit in New York said China would aim to step up efforts to cut climate-warming greenhouse gases after next year.
A “green” Belt and Road programme would strengthen global cooperation on climate change, he added without elaborating.
China was not among the 77 nations at the climate summit that committed to carbon neutrality by 2050.
Beijing has pledged a target date of about 2030 for a peak in greenhouse gas emissions, but the Paris accord on climate change urges nations to make stronger pledges if possible.
Government researchers have urged China to bring the target forward, but cautious officials have warned economic uncertainty could jeopardise even existing pledges.
“In light of tough economic and geopolitical prospects, China is weighing its options on climate,” said Li Shuo, senior climate adviser with environmental group Greenpeace.
“China’s statement today keeps Beijing’s intentions ambiguous, leaving plenty of wiggle room for a decision to double down on climate targets in 2020.”
China will also propose 150 new initiatives to mitigate annual carbon emissions by as much as 10 billion to 12 billion tonnes through the use of natural solutions such as reforestation, Wang added.
China has championed the use of “nature-based solutions”, such as the expansion of forests, grasslands and wetlands, as well as the use of biomass energy.