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China's Xi targets steeper cut in carbon intensity by 2030

LONDON/BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s President Xi Jinping on Saturday targeted a steeper cut in rates of carbon emissions relative to economic activity by 2030 and set new goals for growth in renewable energy and forest stock, as the country looks to reach the peak of its emissions before the end of the decade.

FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping applauds during a meeting to commend role models in China's fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China September 8, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

“Today, I wish to announce some further commitments for 2030,” told Xi a one-day virtual U.N. summit on climate change via video before announcing the targets.

“China always honours its commitments.”

China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, will cut its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product, or carbon intensity, by more than 65% from 2005 levels by 2030, said Xi.

That compares to targets China announced in 2015 of lowering carbon intensity by 60-65% by 2030.

Xi also said that China will boost its installed capacity of wind and solar power to more than 1,200 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, and increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 25% during the same period, up from a previous commitment of 20%.

As of 2019, China had combined accumulative installed solar and wind capacity of around 414 GW. China’s state planner is aiming to have 240 GW of wind and the same amount of solar capacity installed by the end of this year.

“(China’s new target) demonstrates good will,” said Li Shuo, a climate advisor with environmental group Greenpeace.

Li estimated that China’s new carbon intensity target would mean China would reach the peak of its carbon emissions between 2025 and 2030.

“However, Beijing has the potential to do more. Making its emissions peak earlier than 2025 is still something it should strive for,” said Li, adding that Greenpeace was expecting China to cut its carbon intensity by 70-75% by 2030.

The European Union has urged China to halt all new coal projects and to stop financing overseas coal plants. But Xi’s speech on Saturday contained no mention of roadmaps for coal project elimination.

Reporting by Muyu Xu in Beijing and Matthew Green and Kate Abnett in London; Additional reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Frances Kerry