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China says environment still grim despite 5 years of progress

Reuters Shanghai | Updated on October 21, 2020 Published on October 21, 2020

A woman wearing a mask walks on a road as heavy smog blankets China's capital after the city issued its first air pollution alert for the winter season, in Beijing, China November 26, 2018. (File photo)   -  REUTERS

“It will step up efforts to control fossil fuel consumption and promote low-carbon technology, while promising greater contributions to tackling climate change”

SHANGHAI

China’s environment conditions are “grim”, falling short of public expectations even after five years of efforts to improve air quality, boost clean energy and curb greenhouse gas emissions, a senior official said on Wednesday.

There was still a long way to go, said Zhao Yingmin, the vice-minister of ecology and environment, even though China had met a series of targets on smog, water quality and carbon emissions over the five years from 2016.

“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,” he told reporters in Beijing.

China remains dependent on heavy industry and coal, and the “grim environmental trends” have not fundamentally changed, he added.

Last month, President Xi Jinping set a 2060 deadline to attain “carbon neutrality”, as part of China's commitments to the Paris climate change accord. It also aims for emissions to peak by 2030.

“Consensus-breaker”

The announcement was seen as a challenge to the United States, set to withdraw from the Paris deal on November 4. On Monday, the foreign ministry criticised Washington's record on climate, calling it a consensus-breaker and a troublemaker.

China is drawing up a new five-year plan for 2021-2025, which experts say would require stronger commitment to controlling coal consumption and promoting low-carbon energy to meet the 2060 target of carbon neutrality.

Also read: China seeks to dent coal addiction with mega power complexes

Zhao did not give detail of the next five-year plan, but said China would step up efforts to control fossil fuel consumption and promote low-carbon technology, while promising greater contributions to tackling climate change. (Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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Published on October 21, 2020
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