China, climate and 2030

Submitted by AWL on 2 November, 2021 - 10:52 Author: Chris Reynolds
Chinese power plants

In 2019 China’s greenhouse gas emissions passed the total of the richer countries (OECD and EU) to reach 27% of the world total (USA 11%, India 7%, EU 6%).

Proportional to population, China’s emissions are still much lower than the USA’s (though now higher than the UK’s). And its historical total emissions are much lower.

To get from here to a world with average temperature rise limited even to 2C, China will have to cut emissions.

For COP26, the UK offers a plan by 2030 to cut emissions to 33% of 2005 levels, and the USA, to cut to 49%. China offers that by 2030 emissions will stop rising.

China is by far the world’s biggest user of coal power. China has pledged to level off use of coal, and to stop funding coal power in other countries through its Belt and Road Initiative.

China has expanded nuclear, wind, solar, and hydroelectric power faster than fossil-fuel power, so its fossil-fuel percentage of primary energy has gone from 94% in 1995 and 93% in 2011 to 85% today (pledge: 75% by 2030).

The US and UK plans are inadequate. China’s even more so. The Chinese government knows that China will not escape global warning, and wants to do something. But at as little cost as possible.

The Chinese regime allows no space for an independent labour movement, or environmental movement, or even critically-informed public, to put pressure on it. Though we know that our achievements where we do have that space have been cruelly limited, we must support the underground movements and workers’ battles seeking to win that space in China.

• Data mostly from Our World in Data

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