China needs to step up its carbon reduction plans, according to U.S. officials at the Chinese Embassy.
While the United States's and China's collaborations on climate change have been good, one diplomat said China needs to "step up its ambitions."
"There is an extraordinary need for engagement, exchange of expertise, collaborative thinking to ask ourselves, 'How can China step up its ambition and step up its timeline so that we can rescue the [capping global warming at 1.5 degree Celsius] goal?'" said David Meale, the U.S. Embassy's No. 2 official in China, at a Friday briefing.
China has been slow in diminishing its carbon emissions, Meale said. China has shown no interest in moving up its timeline to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2060 or for its carbon emissions to peak by 2030, Meale said.
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Despite this reported unwillingness to change, Meale maintained a positive perspective on China's actions.
"It has been a very good year for our collaboration," Meale said, citing the ongoing communications between climate envoys John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua. Meale also noted the U.S.-China deal made at COP26 as evidence of China's interest in engaging with climate change issues.
While the U.S and China are currently in conflict over an assortment of matters, concerns about climate are "one area where we are cooperating and cooperating very productively," Meade said.
While "no country is where we need to be" on carbon reduction, Meade said that China's role will be critical due to its heavy reliance on coal and its influence on other countries.
"This is a very positive outcome and one we plan to build on in our bilateral engagement going forward and ... get to a place where things are speeded up, where the numbers look better," he said.
Meale also said he hopes that China's actions will "hopefully give confidence to other countries about where the world is going on the climate change question, will also inspire them to raise their own ambition."
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China is considered the world's largest energy consumer and the biggest consumer of coal, being responsible for 27% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions in recent years.
Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed during a Sept. 21 speech before the United Nations to stop building new coal plants abroad. However, the country intends to finish creating the plants it already has contracts for. The International Energy Agency estimates that this decision could prevent the emission of as much as 20 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. This is roughly the same as what would be saved by the European Union, reaching its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.