Chinese policymakers expected to focus on Xi Jinping’s radical new climate targets at plenum on new five-year plan.
Chinese leaders will discuss ambitious new measures to tackle climate change on Monday at a government plenum to finalise a new five-year national development plan, after Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to make the country “carbon neutral” by 2060.
Policymakers are under pressure to include radical climate targets in the new 2021-2025 five-year plan, with the COVID-hit economy weighing on their decisions.
Government departments drawing up the document were scheduled to complete the first draft by April, but Xi’s announcement to the United Nations that China will offset all its emissions within 40 years meant they must integrate the new climate goals.
Xie Zhenhua, formerly China’s top climate official and now adviser to the environment ministry, told Reuters that while the new targets were “based on ample research and calculation”, everyone would now have to make adjustments.
Before September, few expected China to promise more ambitious curbs on climate-warming greenhouse gases over the next five years, with policy documents signalling Beijing’s intent to make energy security and the economy its top priorities. It was also expected to go on a new coal-fired power construction spree, but government scholars have been forced to revise their old drafts.
“Right now, every level of government is busy working on the 14th Five-Year Plan,” said Kevin Lo, associate director at the David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies in Hong Kong, who studies China’s environmental policies.