Skip to main content

China Still in the Climate Change Headlines

October 29, 2021

Disappointing Updated Targets

On October 28, 2021, China submitted updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to fight climate change.  NDCs are non-binding plans submitted to the United Nations as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement.  The disappointment comes because the updates offer essentially nothing new; and indeed show some backtracking.

China targets a peak of carbon dioxide emissions before 2030.  It has a “carbon neutral” goal before 2060 – a decade later than the collective target of 2050.  On the plus side, as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, the update provides a commitment to raising the share of non-fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption to 25% by 2030, higher than the earlier pledge of 20%, and increasing wind and solar power capacity to more than 1,200 gigawatts.

One commentator among many, expressed disappointment.  Li Shuo, a policy adviser at Greenpeace China, said in a Twitter feed:

China’s choice epitomizes the lack of determination to step up action among major economies. It reflects Beijing’s mistrust of the US ability to fulfill its carbon & finance targets. There’s real fear that Washington’s empty words will intensify an unfair global climate order.

This blog post was drafted by John Watson. He is an attorney in the Denver, CO office of Spencer Fane. For more information, visit