COP21: a new step for the Chinese environmental policy?
Both the biggest producer of greenhouse gases since 2016 and the largest investor in renewable energies, China signed the COP21 constraining agreement on December 12, 2015, becoming one of the key actors of the conference success. In addition to maintaining global warming under 2C by 2100, the text, through its articles 13 and 14, plans to set up revision and control mechanisms. The states must revise their engagements every five years starting from 2023 and provide a national inventory of the emissions on their territories.
Beijing’s stance had already shown signs of a change, by co-signing an agreement on climate change with the United States outside of the summit of the APEC in 2014. Besides, several proposals were reused in the official statement of the Chinese contribution to the Paris negotiations, in which three big objectives stand out. First, reaching the peak of CO2 emissions no later than by 2030. Then reducing the greenhouse gas emissions per capita by 60% to 65% in comparison to 2005, knowing that they had already been decreased by 33.8% compared to 2005. Finally, using more and more non-fossil fuel such as renewable or nuclear energies to reach 20% of the primary energy consumption by 2030.
However, despite this encouraging stance, China remains and presents itself as a developing country, attached to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. As such, it will receive $100bn of financial aid per year until 2020. Furthermore, according to the treaty of Paris, China can just continue its environmental efforts, while the developed historically responsible countries must set absolute targets of emission reduction. Nevertheless, China sets itself up as a leader for the development of a South-South axis,which would encourage mutual assistance between emerging countries. Beijing has created a climate fund in which $5.1bn have already been invested, that being more that the American contribution to the green fund of the UN.
This position is therefore in line with its new policies regarding the climate, which actually started with the 12th five-year plan and will be confirmed during the ratification of the 13th plan in March 2016.