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China has committed to becoming a carbon-neutral nation by 2060, after resolving to hit peak emissions before 2030, President Xi Jinping announced at the U.N. General Assembly.

The Chinese leader addressed the rest of the U.N. Assembly in New York via video link, detailing the steps that the Asian giant intends to take in support of its environmental goal. Experts lauded the announcement as a significant step against climate change, given that China alone is responsible for around 28 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions.

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Renewed Support for the Paris Accord

In his address to the U.N. General Assembly, Xi expressed China's renewed support for the Paris Accord - a global agreement adopted by 187 countries to address climate change - and called on his fellow world leaders to focus on the environment after recovering from the global coronavirus pandemic. 

He stressed that the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated how "humankind can no longer afford to ignore the repeated warnings of nature," calling for the transformation of countries to create a "green recovery" of the world's economy after the pandemic.

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According to his video link address, the agreement "outlines the minimum steps to be taken to protect the Earth, our shared homeland, and all countries must take decisive steps to honor this agreement."

Xi Jinping then announced: "We aim to have carbon dioxide emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060."

He then called on all countries to pursue "innovative, coordinated, green, and open development for all," inviting nations to "seize the historic opportunities" created by advancements in science and technology.

According to Xi, China will be scaling up its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) by adopting various policies and strategies. The INDC refers to a nation's intended greenhouse gas emission reductions pursuant to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

An Important Signal from China

Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace International's executive director, wrote on Twitter to recognize the weight of Xi Jinping's announcements. She noted that Xi's commitment to adopt stronger environmental policies "is an important signal that responding to the #ClimateCrisis is top of mind and top of agenda for China." She also stressed the importance of China's effort to translate these announcements into concrete actions, inquiring how other world leaders will respond.

 

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Additionally, the European Union has been pushing the Asian giant to be more aggressive in its environmental commitment, calling for China to meet its peak emissions by 2025, instead of 2030. Representatives for the E.U. explain that the five-year difference is "crucial" in the world's losing fight against climate change.

In November 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump formally submitted a notification to the U.N. that it will be withdrawing from the Paris Accord, pulling the largest economy from the global agreement. It was later confirmed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo via Twitter, followed by a statement.

"The U.S. is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy, and ensuring energy for our citizens," Pompeo wrote.