BEIJING – China pledged Thursday to increase its efforts to limit greenhouse gases and said that Premier Wen Jiabao would attend the Copenhagen climate summit next month.
The announcements came a day after President Barack Obama said he would join the conference and unveiled a provisional target to reduce carbon emissions in the United States.
The combination of moves creates a glimmer of optimism that the Dec. 7-18 climate talks will bring nations closer to meaningful agreements on emission cuts – if not next month, then sometime in the near future.
“Wen’s presence at the meeting fully embodies the Chinese government’s great attention to the issue and its political willingness to address the issue with international cooperation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a news conference Thursday.
China’s State Council said by 2020 the country would reduce its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40 percent to 45 percent compared with levels in 2005.
This is “a voluntary action based on our own national conditions” and “is a major contribution to the global effort in tackling climate change,” the State Council said.
While China’s cuts are welcomed, Greenpeace China said the targets did not go far enough, considering China’s emissions are expected to continue rising. A pledge in the 45 percent to 50 percent range would have been better, they said.
And China’s GDP is expected to grow, so its total emissions might not drop.
Despite this, the recent moves by China and the U.S. show a willingness to lead the globe toward a climate solution, said Yang Ailun, climate campaign manager for Greenpeace China.