Sharma calls on China to set out plans for cutting emissions

Cop26 President Alok Sharma has called on China to spell out how it intends to deliver on its commitments to reduce damaging carbon emissions.

With less than six months to the international climate talks in Glasgow, Mr Sharma welcomed ambitions set out by President Xi Jinping for China to be carbon neutral by 2060, with emissions peaking by 2030.

However, giving evidence to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, he said the Chinese system needed to show “more urgency” in setting out the policies needed to achieve those goals.

“What is really important in the case of China – and indeed every country – is to set out the detailed policies which then lead to the long term commitments that are being made,” he said.

“President Xi talked about being committed to multilateralism, putting that into action, talked about working all parties in terms of enhancing biodiversity, in supporting our positive outcomes at Cop26.

“We need the Chinese system to deliver on President Xi’s commitments with more urgency.

“Certainly, with less than six months to go Cop and four months to go to the Kunming (international biodiversity) conference, I would certainly welcome more detailed engagement from the Chinese system.”

As the world’s largest emitter, the engagement of China is seen as crucial if the conference is to stand any chance of achieving its aim of limiting global warming to 1.5C.

However, Mr Sharma said that other countries needed to do more, including Australia which is the only developed economy without a target for net zero emissions.

“Prime Minister (Scott) Morrison has spoken about net zero as soon as possible, preferably by 2050. Obviously we want to see that commitment coming forward,” he said.

“That is a message we are delivering to all countries, particularly in the G20, that have not yet come forward with the level of ambition that we want to see.”

After the conference was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Sharma said they were planning for a physical gathering rather than a virtual event.

“We are absolutely planning on a physical Cop. None of us can predict precisely where we will be with Covid in five-and-a-half months time,” he said.

“I think it is vitally important that we actually have a physical Cop and the developing countries are able to sit at the same table opposite the big emitters.”