Glacier collapse puts spotlight on China’s need to take ambitious action on climate change

Intro

With the world awaiting China’s official emissions reduction commitment (INDC), the collapse of a glacier in Xinjiang, which swallowed 1000 hectares of grassland, has put even more pressure on it to take swift and strong action. China and India recently made a joint announcement that they will share their INDCs well before Paris, but both have much to do to address coal use if they are to do their part to keep average global temperatures below a risky 2DegC rise. Both thankfully have a heavy focus on renewable expansion, and China has shown it can make huge strides in emissions reductions by abandoning coal, but India would do well to not follow in China’s black industrial footsteps given the air pollution and environmental degradation hangover China is still suffering through. Strong emission reduction commitments from China and India will also go a long way to shame intransigent countries, such as Canada and Australia, especially given Canada has now officially submitted a weak INDC to the UNFCCC. Many signs show that China is moving faster than laggards like Canada, with top Chinese climate official, Zou Ji, presenting two missing pieces of the puzzle on Tuesday – deeper carbon intensity reductions and greater use of forests as carbon sinks. China has also signed a joint announcement with Brazil on addressing the climate change by increasing the share of renewable energy in the energy mixes.

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RT‏@Energydesk: Chinese renewables could account for half the world’s power by 2050 http://bit.ly/1JwwqcX https://twitter.com/Energydesk/status/601091534864322560

Key Points

  • The pressure is on China to act stronger and faster for a safe climate and clean economy. Canada submitted its INDC last Friday after the EU, the US, Mexico and others, and eyes are on China, the biggest emitter that has been absent in this concerted contributions to deal with climate change. While global atmospheric carbon dioxide level crossed a dangerous record 400 parts per million (ppm) in March and climate impacts are observed in the melting western antarctica and flooded Marshall Islands, it’s clear and urgent that China should walk the talk with India and Brazil and move faster in the energy transition.

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Key Quotes

  • “Coal-fired power demand is being displaced by renewables including hydro and nuclear. Demand from non-power sectors is also weak, especially as combating pollution pressures industries like steel and cement. These will keep coal prices sluggish.” – Li Rong, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie Ltd.
  • “Coal demand in China has peaked. It went down last year, it’s probably going down even more this year. Coal prices will never recover, ever.” – Laban Yu, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Jefferies

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