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China says sticking to climate pledges despite coronavirus outbreak

Vow may be diffiult to keep as country turns to industry for economic boost

China has promised to cut the amount of carbon dioxide emissions it produces per unit of GDP by 40% to 45% between 2005 and 2020.   © Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) -- China will fully implement its commitment to nationally determined contributions (NDCs) on climate change under the Paris climate agreement despite the coronavirus outbreak, the country's environment ministry said on Tuesday.

China, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouses gases, pledged to cut "carbon intensity" -- the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP -- by 40-45% from 2005-2020 as part of the Paris pact it signed in 2015. It said last year it would set a more ambitious target, without giving figures.

However, government researchers and analysts have warned that China may struggle to meet its climate pledges this year as it turns to heavy industry and carbon-intensive projects to shore up its coronavirus-stricken economy.

"China's carbon emission reduction will not change with the occurrence of the epidemic," Liu Youbin, spokesman for the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said at a monthly press conference in Beijing, adding that China would "100%" fulfil its NDC commitment.

China cut its carbon intensity by 4.1% in 2019 from the previous year, according to environment ministry data.

Speaking at the ministry's first offline briefing since January, Liu also said China would submit a progress report on its NDC on schedule, along with further plans based on the Paris accord.

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