China has revealed its itinerary of commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement. The president of the most populated and most polluting nation on the planet, Xi Jinping, did it, almost by surprise, during his telematic intervention in the UN General Assembly, on September 22. Although European diplomacy knew the road map ten days before, also from the mouth of the Chinese head of state, on the occasion of the fourteenth bilateral summit with the EU, which described the announcement as an "unprecedented political advance".
Because Jinping's challenge for his country to register reductions in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere with respect to current thresholds in 2030, with the focus on energy neutrality in 2060 could seem like a trivial challenge, but, deep down, it contains a colossal effort. The official goal of certifying net emissions will arrive, if the Chinese roadmap is fulfilled, with a delay of ten years over that stipulated by Europe. However, the planning of the Asian giant will require more determined efforts –and, at the same time, more realistic– as it is the focus of the greatest emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere –it continues to hold the status of the Great Global Factory–, which that will demand advances with a higher cruising speed and reforms in its production system of greater depth to certify the sustainable and digital reconversion. And, above all, its strategy anticipates that of the United States, which continues to be eloquently silent in one year, 2020, exceptional economically due to the effects of the Great Pandemic. Awaiting the electoral result, the outcome of which will be essential for the White House to activate the Democratic Green New Deal or, on the contrary, to persist the denialist policies of the Trump Administration.
Although, in the same way, it is an emblematic exercise in the battle to combat the climate catastrophe, because the United Nations had chosen the end of 2020 for countries around the world to demonstrate, as their first flying goal, the first reductions in their levels of pollution. A scale that, according to the UN head of climate change, Patricia Espinosa, a few weeks ago, expects 80% of the countries signatories to the Paris Agreements to comply in 2015. Jinping's declaration of intent - down from emissions by 2030 and carbon neutral by 2060 - fits your message from five years ago.
But, on this occasion, they become concrete and official time limits within Beijing's economic strategy, which it will impose on the same technological investments and specific disbursements to continue with its reforestation plans for its territory. Espinosa stresses that the Great Pandemic has accelerated the process towards energy neutrality throughout the world. Even some institutions such as the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy, quoted by The Economist, advance that Beijing "could advance the turning point towards reducing emissions to 2025". In the territory that expels 28% of CO2. Jinping clarified that the Chinese commitment will not only correct these polluting gases –the main causes of global warming caused by the action of man and that, for the most part, come from fossil fuels–, but also include other fuels such as methane.
Although it does not reach the European objective of neutralizing all the emissions that generate the greenhouse effect. Climate Action Tracker, a research group, calculates that, in 2100, if all the governments that adhered to the Climate Pact of the Parisian capital - from which the United States left by Donald Trump's decision - complied with their schedules, the planet would rise at 2.7 degrees centigrade its temperature. Still far from the purpose of these agreements that to control the warming between 1.5 and 2 degrees. The new Chinese tactic - this think-tank values - would bring a reduction of between 0.2 and 0.3 degrees.
Not surprisingly, what is most important is the entente cordiale between the EU and China to achieve this shared purpose in the middle of the century. The community club is responsible for 10% of emissions. Waiting for the presidential victory of Joe Biden to join the US and devise a concerted action by the territories with the largest economic size and causing, together, 45% of global pollution. This alliance would "firmly put" the Paris Goals on track, says Bill Hare of Climate Action Tracker. American CO2 emissions peaked between 2005 and 2007, when they fell by 14% over the previous decade.
In Europe it happened in 1990 and, since then, they have fallen by 21%. The fact that the EU, the US and China reach an understanding to cut polluting gases by 45% by 2030 is a great leap for humanity, says Hare. Above all, if Beijing is able to advance that moment by five years. Task that requires a complete decarbonisation of its electrical supply network, more than 60% of which comes from the combustion of coal. And the epitaph of thermal power plants. Because China monopolized in the first six months of 2020 more than 60% of the new facilities built on the planet.
In addition to reverting its nuclear power for civil use, a low-polluting energy source, but very problematic when it comes to recycling the toxic nuclear waste it generates, and which Beijing doubled, to 48.7 GigaWatts, between 2014 and 2019. Or to accelerate their CO2 capture programs, methods that have not yet been coupled to a large-scale plan. Despite the technological advances established for this in the Asian giant. The fact that the EU, the US and China reach an understanding to cut polluting gases by 45% by 2030 "would firmly put the Millennium Goals on track", they say in Climate Action Tracker; Beijing and Brussels have agreed to it, waiting for the victory of Joe Biden.
Towards a radical climate consensus
Each national incorporation into a joint strategy puts pressure on the rest of the countries aligned with the fight against climate change. Above all, if the three largest economies - and those that emit the most CO2 - implement a common tactic. "If China does not reach energy neutrality, there is no option that the earth's temperature will rise by only 1.5 degrees at the end of this century with respect to the climatological levels prior to the Industrial Revolution," Gen Peters, research director of the Institute, explains to Bloomberg. Center for International Climate Research.
Each half a degree that is cut will cost 20 billion dollars until 2100, according to the journal Nature in a recent economic study. The equivalent of current US GDP. Convenient amounts that, moreover, must be used and spent over a long period of time - eighty years - and that facilitate the transition towards digitization and sustainability, the two great mega-trends that have been established in the political, economic and financial spheres and that has been consummated with the explosive rebound of the ESG (Environment, Social & Governance) criteria.
An investment phenomenon that has been reactivated during the Great Pandemic. Because between April and June of this year, the period that registered a spectacular bullish rally in the markets after the debacle of the initial weeks of the global spread of Covid-19, the capital movements of the strategies of management companies and securities companies towards this type of investment exceeded 71,100 million dollars. This figure is similar to the size of the GDP of nations such as Oman, Panama, Venezuela or Luxembourg. Analysts are beginning to believe that the market's commitment to companies moving towards energy neutrality and a green economy, with social policies and corporate transparency, is here to stay. Among other reasons, because they have a very wide margin to grow. Because investments tied to ESG goals are still a small portion of the $ 41 trillion held by mutual funds around the world.
Beijing's announcement toward energy neutrality is a first step in a long-term strategy "fundamental in a market with 1.4 billion energy consumers" that needs a "much more efficient production system," write analysts at Bloomberg NEF, center. diagnostic of the energy industry. In the same way as other initiatives such as that of the State of California, the sixth most polluting territory, to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2045. A tactic spurred by the successive waves of fires in recent years in the richest state in the US and that is completed with the expiration date of manufacture of vehicles with fossil fuels. As in the European partners - which assume the reduction of their CO2 emissions by 55% in 2030 - and in the United Kingdom. California Governor Gavin Newson just signed an executive order to seal the sale of gasoline cars in 2035.
Peters, of the ICRC, also bets that Jinping's proposal "will not be the final one", and says he hopes that, in the coming years, Beijing will correct its roadmap with even more demanding objectives. Given the evolution –with huge investments– that it is already undertaking to promote renewable energies. If moving faster, it would involve India in this challenge, which claims to be unprepared to implement emission correction measures and which views climate change as a matter beyond its industrial interests, but which, under pressure from China, " it can easily understand in the immediate future a geostrategic damage ", a point to which politically and diplomatically the nationalist government of Narendra Modi is not willing to resign at the international level. Nor in the national. Under his tenure, India has recorded record solar installations. And new sustainable investments would contribute to generating supply networks that, at the moment, are very deficient, says a recent Foreign Policy diagnosis. The pressure from China, with high bilateral tension in recent months on its neighbor on account of Kashmir, is also looming in the energy field, where the gap with India is deep.
The Beijing regime has achieved that almost half of the world's electric vehicles circulate on its roads, 98% of them buses, wrote a few dates ago in the British newspaper The Guardian Barbara Finamore, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council and author from Will China Save the Planet? In his opinion, for the Asian giant to enter into this strategy and achieve energy neutrality "is a colossal decision" because "it continues to be highly dependent on fossil fuels." In other words, it navigates a great paradox, since at the same time that it increases its network of coal plants, especially to supply factories that produce half of the world's steel and cement, it is at the forefront of clean technology.
China is the largest investor, generator and consumer of renewable energy and its production lines for electric vehicle batteries will double the combined capacity of the rest of the planet by 2025. But, to reach its goal, "it needs to quickly accelerate its capitals." Up to doubling your annual investments in solar energy and tripling or quadrupling those focused on wind power. As well as promoting the technological transformation towards hydrogen and the energy that comes from the tides. With preconceived and permanent long-term budgetary outlays in support of energy neutrality and the involvement of each provincial governor and each mayor in this task.
A necessary cooperation that also translates to digitization, despite the boom that new technologies have already caused in the Chinese production system. The 2021-25 five-year plan "will be essential, because it must mark the beginning of a journey without going backwards," explains Finamore. For the Asian giant to enter energy neutrality "is a colossal decision" because "it continues to be highly dependent on fossil fuels", but, for this, it must put an end to the increase in its coal plants that supply the factories that produce the energy. half of the world's steel and cement.
Digital Newspaper El Público