China unveils $3.1bn climate finance pledge

The system, to be unveiled during a summit in Washington between presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping, would expand pilot programs rolled out in seven cities and provinces since 2013. That is, as opposed to offering new emissions targets, the statement illustrates the bilateral efforts and domestic policies that make the previous pledges credible. The statement notes that China is also planning to accelerate its efforts to control super greenhouse gas HFCs, including “effectively controlling HFC-23 emissions by 2020”, and that both countries will cooperate on reducing super-greenhouse gas HFCs which are widely used in air conditioning and refrigeration, but for which companies have already found and are continuing to develop climate-friendly replacements.


For its part, China confirmed in a joint statement that it “plans to launch in 2017 a national emission trading system covering power generation, steel, cement”. We hope putting a price on pollution by establishing a cap-and-trade system will motivate Chinese business leaders and developers to adopt cleaner practices.

“Coming less than a year after the historic U.S.-China announcements on national climate targets, this bold, new announcement from President Xi to limit emissions and harness market forces for low-carbon development is the kind of leadership the world needs”.

The announcement comes ahead of a major United Nations climate change summit in Paris later this year, and is one of the few breakthroughs expected during Xi’s visit.

In June, the country pledged a bold “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” to the UN Framework Convention on Climate sets 2030 as the deadline to peak its carbon emissions. But now that China has plans to commit to such a program, it’s likely that the issue will come up again.

But Xi’s cap-and-trade plan is of special symbolic significance, given Obama’s own failed efforts to convince lawmakers to impose such a significant change on the American economy.

But despite these initiatives many lawmakers in the United States and policy makers around the world have viewed China’s environmental programs with skepticism-more promise than performance. (Right now, while China produces a great deal of renewable energy, problems with the grid means much of it goes unused.) The country will also improve appliance and vehicle efficiency standards. In the past, coal plants in China have been cheap and easy to build, but the fossil fuel source has led to crippling pollution and a dramatic public health problem.


The Chinese government has promised to invest $3.1bn in helping developing and vulnerable countries deal with the worst impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels, floods and drought, in a move that has been hailed as a “watershed moment” in the run-up to the Paris climate change talks.

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