What China’s plan for net-zero emissions by 2060 means for the climate | Barbara Finamore
When I first moved to China in 1990, winter meant coal. The moment Beijing turned on the municipal heating system, our faces would become covered with soot. People stockpiled loose coal in huge piles outside their homes for heating and cooking. I could see the smokestacks of four large coal power plants and the country’s largest steel mill in the distance. China’s addiction to this most carbon-intensive of fossil fuels made the prospect of a country dedicated to fighting climate change seem fanciful.
Now, in perhaps the most important news of 2020 that you may have missed, China has stepped up on its own as a climate leader. On 22 September, President Xi Jinping announced in a video address to the UN general assembly that China would aim to become “carbon neutral” before 2060 – Beijing’s first long-term target. In so doing it joins the European Union, the UK and dozens of other countries in adopting mid-century climate targets, as called for by the Paris agreement.