When it was first announced in late 2014, China’s climate pledge was a bold and unprecedented step that gave new confidence to global efforts to mitigate climate change. This pledge, enshrined in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, commits the country to peak its emissions at latest by 2030 through steady reductions in carbon intensity and deployment of non-fossil energy. As the world’s largest energy user and emitter, and second largest economy, China’s move placed a significant dent in global emissions projections at the time.
Today, the combination of China’s economic slowdown and proactive government realignment of internal priorities toward more sustainable growth has led to lower projections of the country’s emissions trajectory. The question is no longer whether or not China will be able to meet its pledge—indeed, a peak sooner than 2030 looks well within reach, suggesting China’s climate pledge was both prudent and credible.