Updated Sep 24, 2020 - Energy & Environment

China's split personality on climate

Illustration of a seesaw balanced on the tip of a star, with the earth on one side

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new insta-analysis of China's vow to achieve "carbon neutrality" before 2060 helps to underscore why Tuesday's announcement sent shockwaves through the climate and energy world.

Why it matters: Per the Climate Action Tracker, a research group, following through would lower projected global warming 0.2 to 0.3°C. That's a lot!

  • If all countries' existing pledges under the Paris climate deal were implemented, they estimate a rise of 2.7°C above preindustrial levels by 2100.
  • But if China followed through, it would bring that to 2.4 to 2.5°C, they project.
  • The goal of the Paris deal is to hold warming "well below" 2°C and ideally limit it to 1.5°C, but analysts say the lower level is slipping out of reach very fast.

Yes, but: There's no reason to take China's pledge at face value right now, especially before any information on the planned implementation surfaces.

  • And there's quite the disconnect between the long-term goal and China's existing situation.
  • A new analysis posted over at Carbon Brief finds that China is "focusing its post-Covid recovery on high-carbon energy and infrastructure."
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