A month ago China announced that it aims to become carbon neutral by 2060. For the world’s largest polluter this is a big promise—one that of course led to a series of questions, doubts and criticisms. However, if implemented many of the steps in President’ Xi Jinping’s promise would dampen the effects of climate change, and would keep the global temperature from rising above 1.5°C.
The plan is two-fold: a masive overhaul of China’s energy mix and increasing NBS (Nature Based Solutions) to capture CO2 from the atmosphere.
Since the announcement of Xi’s 2060 carbon pledge, China’s solar stocks have soared.
“China is home to the most solar panels and wind turbines in the world, and is also the leading manufacturer of both. Its companies are technology leaders in photovoltaic panels, which are seen as the leading source of future power” —BloombergNEF.
The latter, NBS has been quite popular among Chinese experts, who are committed to using natural carbon sinks such as vegetation, soil, algae and seagrass, as well as investing in CCU and CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) technologies.
This is amazing news, particularly for a country who has been the world’s factory for the last 40 years. So far Beijing is already boasting countless projects: resforesting forests, planting billions of trees, restoring wetlands and mangroves, as well as designating 1/4 of its landmass to conservation.
China has a bad reputation with wildlife—worstened by the current pandemic. However, Xi is also focusing on bidoiversity conservation, hosting the UN biodiversity summit and encouraging more nations to adopt NBS due to “the potential of a natural system in alleviating climate change.”
Despite the government’s overly enthusiastic narrative, the plan does pose some caveats. For example recent reforestation projects focused on monocultures, these are not as effective as biodiverse forests which can absorb 3x more carbon than monocultures and obviously monocultures don’t host as many species. Either way this is a big win for the planet, having China make such commitments entails one superpower listening to science and realizing that we cannot postpone climate resilience any longer.