Fresh air for fresh brains

7 June 2014

ECO hopes that a fresh breeze of air in Bonn will give the Chinese delegation a break from Beijing’s filthy air, and perhaps a fresh perspective on the negotiations.

Last year, 92% of China’s cities failed to meet national air quality standards. The government has since mandated provinces to curb coal consumption, the biggest source of air pollution, in particular of PM2.5 (particles smaller than 2.5 mm in diameter). A number of provinces have put forward specific coal control measures and some have even pledged to reduce absolute consumption by 2017. The aggregate of these provincial measures will reduce the country’s coal consumption by 655 million tonnes from a business as usual scenario by 2020.

ECO knows that there are significant co-benefits between addressing air pollution and mitigating greenhouse gases emissions. Over the past decade, China’s coal burning has accounted for half of the world’s CO2 emission growth. Slashing coal power generation will not only be good for the Chinese people, but also for the global community.

Provincial cuts to coal-based power generation will translate to roughly 1,300 million tonnes of emissions reductions, equivalent to the combined total annual emissions of Australia and Canada. If China delivers on these plans with a full implementation and by expanding its coal caps to broader regions, then its emissions pathway will be almost in line with the IEA’s 2°C scenario. Other countries must do their fair share to if China is to have confidence moving forward.

ECO thinks that the Minister’s further clarification on China’s proposed submission by March 2015 is a timely step in the right direction that needs to be built upon. China should also communicate its domestic successes here in Bonn to help build momentum in the international climate negotiations. More transparency will help build trust, enhance collective ambition, and might just allow everyone to breathe more easily.

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