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China’s New Carbon Targets in the Context of COP28

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At COP28 on Monday, December 4, 2023, China announced that it will set new emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2035 as part of global commitments to combat climate change. Speaking on the sidelines of the COP28 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference, China’s Special Representative Xie Zhenhua called for greater efforts to control methane. “After this meeting, every country should propose 2035 contribution targets by 2025,” Xie said, emphasizing his country’s determination to announce 2035 carbon targets within the next two years.[1]

Referring to the Paris Agreement at COP28, China called for more technical innovation to achieve global warming control targets, in line with the agreement to limit warming from pre-industrial levels.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for global and regional development aims to expand energy infrastructure and promote regional development. Green energy is an important element of China’s strategic plan. Green energy projects are integrated with the aim of aligning with sustainable development and environmental goals. China has invested in a number of green energy projects under the BRI. In particular, wind, solar and hydropower projects are at the center of these efforts. Its investments in this area are aimed at improving energy security, reducing carbon emissions and supporting regional energy integration. China’s approach reflects its effort to align with global expectations on sustainable development and environmental protection.

In the framework of COP28, developed countries are required to contribute more to the loss and damage fund announced in 2022 to compensate poor countries facing the harmful impacts of climate change. More than 195 countries participating in COP28 took an important step on the opening day of the conference, agreeing to implement the fund.  The host country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), pledged $100 million and the European Union (EU) pledged $275 million to contribute to the fund. The United States of America (USA) then contributed $17.5 million and Japan $10 million, creating a fund of approximately $475 million.

It aims to provide financial assistance to poor countries affected by climate-related disasters, such as flooding or communities displaced by rising sea levels, to help them rebuild and rehabilitate. This fund is different from other climate adaptation funds. It differs from other climate adaptation funds because the loss and damage is centered on a scenario where societies are no longer able to adapt or prepare for climatic impacts. After years of disagreements between developed and developing countries, the loss and damage fund was established in principle at COP27 in Egypt last year. The agreement became operational for the first time this year at COP28.[2]

China’s new carbon targets announced at COP28 show that the country is strengthening its commitments in the fight against climate change. This underscores China’s commitment to a sustainable future and reflects its efforts to maintain its leadership role in the international community. China’s call for greater cooperation in the global effort to address methane emissions underscores the importance of collective efforts to combat climate change. This is an important step at a time of growing international solidarity in the international arena to find a common solution and tackle the climate crisis. The emphasis on justice and equity behind Xie’s call for developed countries to contribute more to the loss and damage fund sends a message that global responsibility for tackling climate change must be shared fairly. This reflects sensitivity to climate injustice between developed and developing countries.

Despite China’s sustainability efforts under the BRI, concerns about the EU’s climate goals and carbon market are growing.  Disagreements raised at the UN have the potential to affect broader negotiations, such as the Global Stocktake (GST), which assesses countries’ collective progress on compliance with the Paris Agreement, the trade implications of climate policies, and the development of confidence standards for carbon markets.

“We remain hopeful that China can positively impact the world and global communities by bringing carbon emissions under control before 2030,” said Kurt Vandenberghe, Director-General for Climate Action at the European Commission.[3]

In conclusion, China’s efforts to expand green energy, including BRI, demonstrate its commitment to sustainable development and combating global climate change. These efforts focus not only on expanding energy infrastructure but also on international cooperation by making significant investments in green energy projects.

China’s commitment to set new carbon targets for 2030 and 2035 can have a positive impact on the international community and can be seen as an important step towards becoming a leader for climate action globally. Alongside these efforts, it is important for China to work in concert with the international community to promote green finance and cooperate with other countries on energy projects. China’s continued adherence to high standards of integrity in carbon markets at the local and global level is a critical factor for the effectiveness of its climate policies.


[1] “Cop28: China Firm On New Carbon Targets For 2030 And 2035, Calls For Global Effort To Cut Methane Emissions”, South China Morning Post, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3243680/cop28-china-firm-pledging-new-carbon-targets-2030-and-2035-calls-global-effort-cut-methane-emissions, (Date Accession: 05.12.2023).

[2] “COP28: Should India And China Benefit From A Climate Damage Fund?”, BBC, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-67610621, (Date Accession: 05.12.2023).

[3] Ibıd.

Zeynep Çağla ERİN
Zeynep Çağla ERİN
Zeynep Çağla Erin, 2020 yılında Yalova Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden "Feminist Perspective of Turkish Modernization” başlıklı bitirme teziyle ve 2020 yılında da İstanbul Üniversitesi Açık Öğretim Fakültesi Sosyoloji bölümünden mezun olmuştur. 2023 yılında Yalova Üniversitesi Lisansüstü Eğitim Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim dalında "Güney Kore'nin Dış Politika Kimliği: Küreselleşme, Milliyetçilik ve Kültürel Kamu Diplomasisi Üzerine Eleştirel Yaklaşımlar” başlıklı yüksek lisans tezini tamamlayarak mezun olmuştur. Şu an Kocaeli Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim dalında doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. ANKASAM stajyeri olarak çalışan Erin'in başlıca ilgi alanları; Asya-Pasifik, Uluslararası İlişkiler'de Eleştirel Teoriler ve Kamu Diplomasisi'dir. Erin iyi derecede İngilizce ve başlangıç seviyesi Korece bilmektedir.