China promised to nearly triple its wind and solar capacity over the next decade when President Xi Jinping joined other world leaders at a UN climate summit with new emissions targets.
Mr Xi's statement was the main one at a virtual summit attended by more than 70 heads of state hosted by Boris Johnson from the UK and Emmanuel Macron from France to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement.
UN Secretary General António Guterres called on all countries to declare a "climate emergency". The world must reduce emissions by 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2010 in order to limit global warming.
He found that G20 countries are spending 50 percent more on their fossil fuel-linked coronavirus stimulus packages than
on low carbon energy, calls it "unacceptable".
“The trillion dollars needed to recover from COVID is money that we are
Loans from Future Generations. This is a moral test, ”he said.
New climate targets from all 189 countries that have signed the Paris Climate Agreement must technically be submitted to the United Nations by the end of the year. More than 40 countries have already submitted their submissions, while others have been delayed by coronavirus.
Mr Johnson warned that "humanity quilted our planet out of greenhouse gases in a poisonous tea".
In recent weeks the UK Prime Minister has announced a number of green measures, including a ban on the sale of new gasoline vehicles from 2030. "Today we step on the accelerator in a carbon-friendly way," he said at the summit.
The USA, the world's second largest emitter, did not have a federal representative at the summit. Under Donald Trump as president, the US withdrew from the Paris climate agreement.
However, President-elect Joe Biden said that he would rejoin the Paris Agreement on his first day in office on January 20, and tweeted during the summit on Saturday: "We will gather the world to advance our progress further and faster." tackle the climate crisis head-on. "
The event missed Australia, whose climate commitments were deemed too weak, and Brazil, which has announced it will pay USD 10 billion a year to protect the Amazon, as well as Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Russia. Company references also included Tim Cook, Apple's CEO.
President Xi's appearance at the summit was the most anticipated as he promised that China would cut its carbon intensity, which measures emissions relative to gross domestic product, by more than 65 percent by 2030. This was an increase of 60-65 percent from his previous goal.
It would also increase installed wind and solar capacity to 1200 GW by 2030, Xi said, up from 415 GW in late 2019.
"China always keeps its commitments," he said. "We will promote greener economic and social development in all aspects."
China is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2060, a goal it announced in September, and Mr Xi's comments on Saturday were the first indication of what paths the country will be taking to meet that goal.
However, climate campaigners were quick to point out that China's new targets were only a slight improvement on previous targets and that the country continued to build new coal-fired power plants.
Li Shuo, Greenpeace's energy policy officer, said the announcement was a "gradual step forward" and a 75 percent target to reduce carbon intensity would have been more in line with China's long-term goal.
"There is no crucial move away from coal," he said. "China still has potential to do more."
One point of contention at the summit was climate finance – funding from rich countries to help developing countries fight climate change – which is expected to reach US $ 100 billion annually by 2020.
Climate finance was "lagging behind," said UN President Guterres, and was hit hard by the economic impact of the pandemic in 2020.
The Italian Giuseppe Conti and the German Angela Merkel announced new contributions to climate adaptation programs. The latter pledged to double their climate finance budget to USD 4.8 billion a year. Great Britain reiterated a funding commitment made last year.