• At the UN General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country will aim to report carbon neutral status before 2060
  • It will have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and scale up its INDC by adopting more vigorous policies and measures, the President added
  • He called on to the world to pursue coordinated, green and open development for all to achieve green recovery of the economy in the post COVID-19 era

Notorious as the world’s biggest carbon emitting nation, China has pledged to become a carbon neutral country before the year 2060. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the goal during the virtual United Nations General Assembly on September 22, 2020.

“China will scale up its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) by adopting more vigorous policies and measures. We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060,” said Jinping in his speech. “We call on all countries to pursue innovative, coordinated, green and open development for all, seize the historic opportunities presented by the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, achieve a green recovery of the world economy in the post-COVID era and thus create a powerful force driving sustainable development.”

While details of the announcement and how China plans to achieve the 2060 target are yet to come in officially, it definitely has surprised the world to see China wanting to take action on curbing its emissions of its own free will.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, China aims to lower its carbon intensity by 40% to 45% from 2005-2020, according to Reuters.

The English translation of Jinping’s UN speech can be read on the website of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Greenpeace China for instance has welcomed the pledge calling it a ‘very positive signal during a challenging year for the environment and global cooperation’, while also raising questions to which no one has the answer right now.

“How China’s commitment plays out on the ground is key. Will we see greater investment in low-carbon industries as part of COVID-19 economic recovery? How soon can China leave coal behind, and can the country’s renewables industry maintain its momentum?” asked Greenpeace China’s Chief Representative Li Yan. “These are the follow-up questions that we need to ask. Meeting these goals requires a low-carbon transition across the entire economy, including in transport, manufacturing, agriculture and consumption, not only in the energy sector.”

The international NGO also points out that this signals further isolation of the US led by President Donald Trump when it comes to the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Greenpeace International’s Executive Director Jennifer Morgan said, “However, actions speak louder than words, and the EU needs to answer China’s move by committing now to a 65% reduction in emissions by 2030.”

Global non profit research World Resources Institute (WRI) also was pleasantly surprised by the Chinese Premier’s announcement. Its Vice President, Climate and Economics, Helen Mountford said, “The case for ambitious climate action is stronger than ever and can deliver a strong economic recovery from COVID-19. Bold climate policy measures can grow China’s economy, create jobs and position the country well to compete and lead in a low-carbon 21st century economy.”

The US does not have a carbon neutral goal so far, while the European Commission has proposed a 55% emission reduction plan for the continent by 2030, increasing its current 40% reduction target, on its way to carbon neutrality by 2050 (see €1 Billion Call From European Commission Under Green Deal).