China may deliver 45% emissions reduction target by 2020, according to its latest projections

China may reach its reduction goals, according to its projections. However, nations across the world must make good on their pledges to fight climate change in time.

For the first time, China has presented greenhouse gas emissions projections that, if accurate, would deliver a reduction in emissions of 4.5 GtCO2 in 2020 below a hypothetical scenario without any policies after 2005, to meet its pledge of a 45% reduction in emissions intensity.

The caveat, according to Climate Action Tracker, is that there hasn’t been sufficient time to examine the projections closely given that these numbers were presented only two weeks ago. In the meantime, China’s pledge rating remains “inadequate.”

“If China’s numbers are correct, their 2020 reduction would be the largest single absolute reduction for any country in the history of action on climate change, equivalent to a year’s worth of emissions from the EU – or 1000 500MW coal-fired power stations’ emissions for a year. With policies and implemented pledge emissions would still rise to 14 GtCO2e in 2020,” said Ecofys Director of Energy and Climate Policy, Dr. Niklas Höhne.

Emission reduction pledges across the globe

Overall, limiting global warming below 2 degrees remains technically and economically feasible, but would require 15% cuts in emissions by 2020 from present levels, the Climate Action Tracker said today.

However, if nothing more is done except the current pledges, costs would be much higher to reach deeper reductions necessary later, and/or the damage from climate impacts would be far greater. Society also would lose the ability to choose whether it wants technologies like carbon capture and storage and nuclear energy, because those, along with bio-energy, would have to be deployed on a massive scale.

The aggregated emissions level from all countries’ pledges is still likely to induce warming exceeding 2 degrees by a wide margin, unless pledges are improved and more policies implemented on a national level. Few countries have policies in place to meet their pledges and even fewer have sufficiently ambitious pledges.

Read more about the climate projections, pledges, and Doha.