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China’s Pollution Effort Falls Short Of Expectations

Despite ambitious efforts to reduce air pollution levels across China over the last five years, results have fallen short of expectations, Reuters reports, citing a senior government official.

“While seeing the improvements ... it should be clearly recognised that the quality of the ecological environment remains far from people’s expectations for a better life,” said Zhao Yingmin, Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment, speaking to reporters.

China is the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, even though it is also the biggest investor in renewable energy projects. However, the country’s emissions are still on the rise, and they will only peak in 2030, under current decarbonization plans. Europe has asked China to try and accelerate the decarbonization push, moving peak emissions to 2025.

Last month, Beijing said it planned to become carbon neutral by 2060, surprising many after it refused for a long time to commit to any long-term pollution-related targets except a stated commitment to have carbon dioxide emissions peak by 2030.

The carbon neutrality target will be a tough one to hit, with some observers suspecting it is nothing more than a greenwashing move. China is currently the source of some 28 percent of global CO2 emissions, with the numbers rising both in 2018 and 2019.

Even so, the country has managed to achieve some progress on air quality and emissions as well as substantial growth in renewable energy capacity. At the same time, it remains heavily reliant on coal and oil for its industrial activity.

Beijing is currently drawing its next five-year, for 2021-2025, and observers have commented it would have to take measures to reduce the use of coal if it is to progress to its 2060 carbon neutrality targets. It would have to tread carefully, however, as the coal industry is a big one, and reduced use of the commodity would involve the loss of many jobs.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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