China – (warsoor) – The United States is guilty of “obstructing” the global fight against fossil fuel emissions, China said on Wednesday, as Beijing seized the climate agenda by promising to go carbon neutral by 2060 – a target welcomed by environmentalists despite being short on details.
The goals, which include a pledge to reach peak emissions in 2030, are the most concrete yet announced by China, which is the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter and accounts for one-quarter of the planet’s emissions blamed for fast-rising global temperatures.
The pledge also opens a new divergence in relations with the US, already pinched by squabbles over trade, tech, defence, and human rights.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday renewed his support for the Paris climate accord and called for a green focus as the world recovers from the COVID-19 crisis.
Under President Donald Trump, the US – the world’s second-largest gas emitter – pulled out of the Paris agreement, blaming China for stalled momentum on tackling global emissions.
“This clearly … seriously obstructs the progress of reducing global emissions,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a statement.
“What qualifications does such a country have to criticise China?” he asked, citing the US’s hunger for plastics and its export of waste.
In his speech to the UN, Xi set China out as a climate leader saying the Paris accord “outlines the minimum steps to be taken to protect the Earth,” and that “all countries must take decisive steps to honour this agreement”.
China aims to have “C02 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060”, Xi said.
In addition to its embrace of global emissions-busting deals, China already feeds nearly 15 percent of its energy demands with non-fossil fuels, Wang added.
China’s “installation of renewable energy stands at 30 percent of the world total”, he said.
But experts say the picture is more nuanced with massive investment continuing at home and overseas in coal and other fossil fuels.
China currently has 135 gigawatts of coal-power capacity either permitted or under construction, according to Global Energy Monitor, a San Francisco-based environmental group.
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