BEIJING, June 30 (Xinhua) -- China on Tuesday made fresh pledges on fighting climate change, setting out ambitious targets beyond 2020 in what it calls its "utmost efforts" in tackling the global challenge.
The world's largest greenhouse gas emitter aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 60 percent to 65 percent from the 2005 level by 2030, according to China's intended nationally determined contributions (INDC), an action plan submitted to the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
That goal will be a big step further from China's previous emission control target, which eyes a decrease of 40 percent to 45 percent from the 2005 level by 2020.
In 2014, carbon emissions per unit of GDP was 33.8 percent lower than the 2005 level.
The enhanced actions "represent its (China's) utmost efforts in addressing climate change," the INDC said.
Acting on climate change is driven by China's domestic needs to ensure economic and ecological security, as well as by its sense of responsibility to fully engage in global governance, according to the document.
China's move came amid calls for faster progress on climate talks ahead of a key UN conference in Paris late this year, when the U.N. hopes the international community will reach a new, universally binding climate pact with a long-term goal of limiting the maximum global average temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
All parties are expected to submit their INDCs before the Paris meeting. However, as of Monday, only 39 countries of the 196 parties to the convention had submitted their INDCs, according to the UNFCCC website.
Speaking at a high-level U.N. meeting on Monday, China's special representative on climate change Xie Zhenhua said "there is very little time between now and the Paris conference", urging all parties to submit their INDCs and strengthen the implementation.
China's pledges also added spotlight to the climate issue on the agenda of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's trip to Europe.
Li arrived in France on Monday after wrapping up a trip to Belgium, where China and the European Union (EU) issued a joint statement to enhance cooperation in the uphill battle against global climate change.
BOOST FOR GLOBAL ACTIONS
China's new climate goals will provide strong support for global emission reduction and push more countries to adopt concrete climate actions, said Li Junfeng, director of the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation (NCSC).
China intends to achieve the peaking of carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and will make best efforts to peak early, the INDC said, reiterating a goal set in a joint statement between China and the United States -- also a big carbon emitter -- in November 2014.
That promise will make it much more likely to realize the peaking of global greenhouse gas emissions between 2020-2030, an important condition for controlling global warming, Li commented.
"China's pledges are very forceful if compared with those of some developed countries," he said.
With the carbon target it sets for 2030, China has to reduce carbon emissions by an average annual rate of 3.6 percent to 4.1 percent between 2005 and 2030, a faster decrease than the United States and EU, Li estimated.
The United States has announced a target of cutting its emissions by 26 to 28 percent from its 2005 level by 2025, while the EU eyes a reduction of at least 40 percent by 2030 on the basis of the 1990 level.
Those targets demand an average annual emission decrease of 3.5 percent to 3.6 percent for the United States and 3.2 percent for the EU, according to Li's calculations.
In its INDC, China called on developed countries to "undertake ambitious economy-wide absolute quantified emission reduction targets by 2030" in accordance with their historical responsibilities.
It reiterated its stance that climate talks should follow the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities, equity and respective capabilities.
The Paris agreement should set quantified targets and a roadmap for developed countries' financial support to developing countries in the fight against climate change, according to the document.
It said the scale of financing should increase yearly starting from 100 billion U.S. dollars per year from 2020 and that the fund should primarily come from public finance.
China has reached out to other developing countries to help them cope with climate change. Since 2011, China has accumulatively invested around 44 million U.S. dollars in South-South cooperation and provided assistance to other developing countries through low-carbon products, training and capacity building.
CATALYST FOR GREEN ECONOMY
As a developing country with a population of more than 1.3 billion, China is among those countries that are most severely affected by the adverse impacts of climate change, according to China's INDC.
Chinese leaders have "declared war" on pollution that has taken a heavy toll on its air, water and soil after a three-decade dash for economic growth.
Apart from the emission target, China also lays out plans to expand the share of non-fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption to around 20 percent by 2030 from the 11.2-percent ratio in 2014, and increase the forest stock volume by 4.5 billion cubic meters from the 2005 level.
To realize that goal, non-fossil fuel use is expected to increase by about 800 million tonnes in the country in next 16 years, cutting carbon emissions by nearly 2 billion tonnes every year, Li Junfeng said.
More non-fossil fuels make it necessary to boost investment in clean energy such as nuclear, hydro and solar power, providing new engines for China's economy as its growth slows.
To fulfill its climate pledges, China's total investment in low-carbon industries in the coming 16 years will exceed 40 trillion yuan (6.45 trillion U.S. dollars), according to NCSC estimates.
"None of the developed countries had to cope with the challenge of transforming to low-carbon economy while in the midst of industrialization and urbanization, which is what China has to do now," Li said. "If China successfully creates a new path of green development, it will set good examples for other developing countries."