Following the Copenhagen Accord: China Submits Carbon Intensity Target to UNFCCC Secretariat

As provided for in last month’s Copenhagen Accord, China has now submitted its “mitigation actions” (click HERE to see the text of the letter in our ChinaFAQs Library). While there was much speculation as to which actions China would submit, in the end China has reported the full set of measures first announced by President Hu Jintao at the United Nations in November 2009, and then amplified by the State Council decision on the 40-45% carbon intensity target at the end of November.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission Director-General for Climate Change Su Wei reported three mitigation actions to the Climate Change Secretariat:

  • A reduction in carbon intensity per unit GDP of 40-45% by 2020 as compared with 2005 levels;
  • An increase in the percentage of non-fossil fuels to 15% of total primary energy consumption by 2020; and
  • An increase in forest coverage by 40 million hectares and forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 as compared with 2005 levels.

Director-General Su Wei emphasized that these are domestic commitments and their reporting to the international community is voluntary, but in fact all mitigation commitments under the Copenhagen Accord are voluntary (see our colleague Jacob Werksman’s comment on the legal status of the Accord).

At the same time China’s State Council emphasized the continuing importance of addressing pollution issues in China. Reuters reported that the State Council announced on its official website that China must “increase investment in and forcefully develop environmentally-friendly industries, as well as strengthen the ability to protect the environment.” This follows on a number of new policies intended to strengthen both energy administration and specific clean energy policies.

Photo by bigblackbox, courtesy of an Attribution-Share Alike Generic 2.0 license.