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China targets 40 – 45% emissions cuts by 2020

World Cement,

On 26 November 2009, the State Council of China announced that the country would reduce carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45% by 2020 compared with the level of 2005. The State Council emphasised that these targets have been set voluntarily, and will be a major contributor to the global battle against climate change.

Environmental action
As well as reducing carbon emissions, the State Council has vowed to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 15%, raise forest coverage by 40 million ha, and boost forest stock volume by 1.3 billion m3, all of which are in line with the Bali Road Map agreed by UNFCCC parties in 2007.

High hopes
Li Gao, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and a key climate change negotiator, said at a recent forum: 'We will try to make the summit successful and we will not accept that it ends with an empty and so-called political declaration,' adding that negotiations thus far had been ‘seriously inadequate’.
The Chinese are determined to stand behind the UNFCCC, and are unwilling to allow for flexibility that could permit some countries to put aside Kyoto and replace it with their own legislation. 'Abiding by the Protocol and adhering to the UNFCCC-envisioned 'common but differentiated responsibilities' is a matter of principle,' Li said.

International cooperation
The run-up to COP15 has seen many countries form bilateral agreements with regard to climate change. This may help or hinder negotiations, depending on the ‘teams’ that are formed, their joint and individual agendas, and their willingness to compromise.
China’s announcement breaks the deadlock that has been perceived between it and the US, and indeed ought to improve China’s international standing on the topic of climate change. It remains to be seen whether the US will bring anything concrete to the table in Copenhagen, but in any case its targets (whether implied or defined) are likely to be about half as ambitious.
Perhaps the need to ‘save face’ will ultimately provide the impetus for the US to legislate, particularly in light of statements such as that from Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei, who pointed out: 'China made the emission cut target without financial and technological support from developed countries. This is not only for the country's own sustainable development, but also for the benefit of all the mankind.' A tough act to follow for Obama and his Cabinet.

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